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SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS 



Printed by Neill <£; Company, Edinburgh, 

FOR 
DAVID DOUGLAS 

LONDON .... SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT, AND CO., LIM. 
CAMBRIDGE . . . MACMILLAN AND BOWES. 
GLASGOW . . JAMES MACLEHOSE AND SONS, 



SCOTTISH GYPSIES 



UNDER THE STEWARTS 



BY 

DAVID MACEITCHIE 

AUTHOR OF "the GYPSIES OF INDIA," ETC. 




EDINBUEGH: DAVID DOUGLAS 

1894 



[All Rights reserved.] 



2.15' 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Introduction, vii 

CHAPTER I. 

Dark and Fair Gypsies — Tinkers or Tinklers — The 
Yetholm Tinklers — A Privileged Class — " The 
King's Kindly Tenants " of Lochmaben, . . 1 

CHAPTER 11. 
The Paws — Sorners — Gypsies and Other Nomads, . 13 

CHAPTER III. 

Saracens in Galloway — The Importation of Gypsies — 
Moors and the Morrice Dance — A Gypsy Captain 
IN East Lothian, ....... 20 

CHAPTER IV. 

James iv, of Scotland and the Gypsies — Earl George 
OF Egypt — Aberdeen and the Faws in 1540 — A 
Gypsy Schism — Gypsy Thieves at Haddington in 
1540 — " Letters for expelling of Egyptians," 1541 
— Privy Council Writ of 1553 — The Lawlors in 
England, '29 

CHAPTER V. 

The " Lawful Business " of Gypsies — Faring-Man's 
Law — Gypsy Law enforced by Scottish Crown — 
A Shetland Trial of 1612 — CIypsy Violence, . 46 



G92169 



VI 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER VI. 

PAGE 

Strolling Players at Roslin — Tinkers and Jongleurs 

— " SoRCiERS, Bateleurs, et Filous," ... 56 

CHAPTER VII. 

A " Charge upon the Egyptians," 1573 — " Strong and 
Idle Beggars " punished — Edicts of 1576 and 1579 
— A Gypsy Band at Glasgow in 1579 — Witchcraft 
in 1588 — Legislation against N'omadism — Penal 
Servitude in the Past, ...... 62 



:i< 




CHAPTER VIII. 

The Crime of Harbouring Gypsies — Moses Faw's Sup- 
plication — Four Faws sentenced to Death in 
1611 — Anti-Gypsy Enactments, 1611-1617 — Elspeth 
Maxwell and her Sons, ..... 



77 



CHAPTER IX. 
Lord Gray and the Gypsies — Trial of John Faw and 



Others in 1616 — A Royal 
Act of 1616, . 



Pardon — Anti-G yps y 



CHAPTER X. 

Trial of Eoslin Gypsies in 1624 — Banishment of John 
Stewart and James Faw — Transportation of 
Gypsies to America — The Cairo of Barullion — 
A Famous Gypsy Funeral, ..... 



97 



CHAPTER XI. 

The Countess of Cassillis Story — Formidable 
Character op Gypsy Gangs — Captain "William 
Baillie and his Band — A Record of Crime — 
Miscarriage of Justice — The End of a Turbu- 
lent Life, ........ 



108 



INTRODUCTION. 



nnHE idea of the present work, as well as its title, was 
-■- suggested to me by Mr Henry T. Crof ton's English 
Gypsies lender the Tttdors, a pamphlet issued under the 
auspices of the Manchester Literary Club, in 1880. Mr 
Crofton subsequently embodied this pamphlet, with much 
supplementary information, in a paper entitled " Early 
Annals of the Gypsies in England," which appeared in the 
Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society ; ^ and all who have read 
that admirable paper have realised that it contains, condensed 
within a very small space, an immense array of historical 
facts relating to the Gypsies of England, during the reign of 
the Tudors. But a study of Scottish Gypsies under the 
Stewarts has the advantage of embracing a much longer 
stretch of time than the Tudor period, as the era of Stewart 
rule, beginning with the accession of Eobert II. in 1371, did 
not actually come to an end until the death of Queen Anne, 
in 1714. In another respect, moreover, it is of advantage to 
select this period; because although Mr Walter Simson's 
History of the Gypsies'^ gives an excellent account of the 
Scottish section of the race, yet his descriptions relate chiefly 
to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Undoubtedly 
that History contains also a number of earlier references, 
but these are comparatively few. To Simson's History, 
however, the present writer owes an immense debt, for all 

1 Vol. i. pp. 5-24 Edinburgh, 1888-89 ; printed by T. & A. Constable. 
* London and Edinburgh, 1865 ; very fully edited by Mr James Siiuson. 



VIU INTRODUCTION. 

kinds of information regarding the Gypsies, in Scotland and 
elsewhere. 

While taking as my model Mr Crof ton's Tudor monograph, 
and stimulated still further by the profound historical re- 
searches of M. Paul Bataillard, researches which have occupied 
that student of the Gypsies for half a century,^ I have, how- 
ever, allowed myself a little more latitude than either of 
these writers, indulging occasionally in discursive remarks, 
inevitably suggested by some of the more important of the 
historical quotations. But it is to be understood that even 
these observations do not pretend to answer every question 
to which the facts cited give rise, or to offer anything like a 
final solution of the Gypsy problem. That problem, in the 
opinion of the present writer, has never been satisfactorily 
solved ; and this study of the Scottish Gypsies cannot claim 
to do more than assist in the ultimate unravelling of this 
intricate question. 

From Mr Francis Hindes Groome's In Gypsy Tcnts^ 
I have gleaned many important facts relating to my subject ; 
and to that writer I am indebted for various other references 
and hints which may not be specially acknowledged in the 
following pages. I have only to add that most of the 
historical statements in this work will be found in a series of 
papers contributed by me to the Joiirnal of the Gypsy Lore 
Society ^ in 1890-91. 

1 How deeply, and with what painstaking precision, M. Bataillard has 
studied the question of " The Immigration of the Gypsies into "Western Europe 
in the Fifteenth Centuiy," may best be realised by English readers by con- 
sulting the papers contributed by that scholar to the Journal of the Gypsy Lore 
Society (vols. i. and ii.). [As these pages are going to press, I have to record 
with regret the death, on 1st March, of this veteran tsiganologue.'] - Edin- 
burgh, 1 881. ^ It may be stated that this Journal, so frequently referred to 
in the present work, can be consulted at any of the four principal libraries of 
Edinburgh, as well as at several of the leading English and foreign libraries. 



SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

IN considering the Gypsies of Scotland, one is met at 
the outset by the difficulty of ascertaining the exact 
sense in which that word has been used. The genuine 
Gypsy, the swarthy, fortune-telling Eomany of our fairs and 
race-courses is unmistakeable ; but the term " Gypsy " has 
been and still is loosely applied to many people of fair com- 
plexion, who cannot speak a word of Romanes, and whose 
chief claim to be so designated is that they lead a wandering, 
unsettled life. These latter are also known by various other 
names ; of which the most popular in Scotland are tinker or 
tinJder, — and, in earlier times, caird, — as also liorner, mugger 
{i.e., potter), and faio, — these last terms being more specially 
limited to the Border districts. 

The difficulty of defining a Scottish Gypsy will be realised 
if we turn to the observations made by Baron Hume with 
regard to this subject. " Touching the proof of such a charge," 
he says, " it is not sufficient to prove, in general, that the 
pannel [the accused] is habite and repute a sorner, or a 
vagabond, or a thief, or that he is addicted to those pilfering 
and vitious courses, which are common to Egyptians [i.e., 
Gypsies] with other wandering and dissolute societies. The 
special opinion of him as an Egyptian, or one of a different 
breed from the other inhabitants of this land, must be estab- 
lished ; and this proceeding on those noted and peculiar 
circumstances of manner and appearance by which, in all 
countries that they have visited, this loose and lazy race 
have so remarkably been distinguished. Among these are 
the black eye and swarthy complexion ; a peculiar language 

A 



2 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

or gibberish, intelligible only to themselves ; the practice of 
palmistry and fortune-telling ; and the custom of living (so 
far as the climate will permit) in the open air, and in 
solitary places." ^ 

So far, this seems distinct enough. But the numerous 
Gypsy trials on which Hume comments are themselves 
sufficient proof that " the black eye and swarthy complexion " 
was either wholly awanting in many cases, or else it was 
also common to the accused " Egyptian " and to many of the 
non-Gypsy inhabitants of Scotland. For, if the distinction 
was one of race, why should it have been necessary to prove 
that the accused was a Gypsy ? It would not be necessary, 
in any modern trial, to prove that a negro was a negro, or a 
Chinaman a Chinaman. Moreover, in those Gypsy trials, it 
frequently happened that the accused was acquitted of " being 
an Egyptian ; " a decision which obviously could never have 
been given had the question been one of race. Further, we 
see from the following descriptions that certain notorious 
" Gypsy " families in Scotland were not at all distinguished by 
" the black eye and swarthy complexion." " The principal 
names of the Gypsies residing at Yetholm," says a writer 
of the year 1835," " are Faa, Young, Douglas, and Ely the. 
The two latter are the most numerous, but they are 
evidently not of the same race. The Douglasses, the Faas, 
and the Youngs are generally dark-complexioned, with black 
hair ; while the Blythes mostly are light-haired and of fair 
complexion." Again, the minister of the parish of Borthwick, 
in Midlothian, writing in 1839, states that the village of 
Middleton was formerly " one of the chief seats of the tinkers 
or Gypsies," and refers to the contemporary representatives of 
those people in the following terms : — " We have already said 
that these do not now exist as a separate tribe in Middleton, 
but are much intermingled by marriage with the common 
people of this and the neighbouring parishes. In some in- 
stances they have accomplished matches of a yet higher kind. 

Their prevailing names are Baillie, Tait, and Wilson 

In occasional instances, the dark complexion and well-formed 

1 Hume's Commentaries on the Law of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1844, vol. i. 
pp. 474, 475. ^ Stephen Oliver, Rambles in Northumbcrlaiul, London, 1835, 
p. 270. 



DARK AND FAIR GIPSIES. 3 

features and sparkling eye of the purer race may be dis- 
covered : but, in general, their colour is rather cadaverous, or 
of a darkish pale ; their cheek-bones high ; their eyes small 
and light coloured ; their hair of a dingy white or red colour, 
and wiry ; and their skin drier and of a tougher texture than 
that of the people of this country." ^ From this last sentence, 
it is clear that the writer, although he speaks of much 
intermixture by marriage, regards, even the wdiite- skinned 
Gypsies as belonging to a special caste, distinct from " the 
people of this country." And in this he agrees exactly with 
the writer whose description of the Yetholm families has just 
been quoted. The Blythes at Yetholm and, " in general, ' 
the Middl^ton Gypsies, in the earlier part of this century, 
were fair-haired, white-skinned people. But, at the same 
time, distinctly " Gypsies." If " the black eye and swarthy- 
complexion " was necessary to establish the charge of " being 
an Egyptian," those people and their forefathers would have 
got off scot free. Yet, in everything that rendered them 
obnoxious to the settled people of Scotland they did not 
differ in the slightest degree from their brother-Gypsies of 
dark complexion. 

One example illustrating this curious condition of affairs 
may be cited here. " On 10th May 1732," says Hume,"^ 
" Mary Alston, alias Yorstoun (a noted Gipsy name), was 
tried on a charge of being an Egyptian ; but was acquitted 
of that charge, and convicted of stealing plaids at a fair, for 
which she was transported." There are several interesting 
particulars connected with this personage. Her husband 
was a celebrated Gypsy, named Matthew Baillie, who 
succeeded his father " Captain " William Baillie in the 
leadership of one section of the South-Scottish Gypsies, on 
the death of the latter in November 1724.'^ This Matthew 
Baillie was the great-uncle of a certain Jane liaillie, whose 
grand-daughter, Jane Baillie Welsh, became the wife of 
Thomas Carlyle. Matthew Baillie is described by Mrs 
Carlyle as " the last of the Gypsies ; could steal a horse from 

^ New Statistical Account of Scotlaiul, vol. i., " Edinljurglishire," Ediiilmrfli, 
184.'), pp. 184, 185. ^ Op. rit., vol. i. p. 474, note 2. ^ n,. ^y,,^ muideied by 
two brot]inr-Gyj).sies at Ncwarthili, Laiiark.shire, His sou Matthew was hau'^ed 
at Laiiaik, as pointed out by Mis Carlyle. 



4 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

under the owner if he liked, Ijut left always the saddle and 
bridle ; a thorough gentleman in his way, and six feet four 
in stature ! " She also says : — " By the way, my uncle has 
told me that the wife of that Matthew Baillie, Margaret 
Euston ^ by name, was the original of Sir W. Scott's Meg 
Merrilees." There are various incidental matters of interest 
in these references. But the point to be noted at present 
is that a woman who bore " a noted Gypsy name," who was 
the wife of a famous Gypsy leader, and the mother of four 
well-known Gypsy men (for Mrs Carlyle is in error in 
describing their father as " the last of the Gypsies "), and 
who was formally " tried on a charge of being an Egyptian," 
was nevertheless " acquitted of that charge," although she was 
sentenced to transportation as a thief. This fact alone 
denotes that to be a Scottish Gypsy or " Egyptian " was not 
necessarily a matter of race or complexion. 

One finds a like difficulty in defining a " Gypsy " when the 
question is considered under other aspects. The beHef 
presently held by most students of the Gypsies is that the 
fifteenth century marks the date of their first appearance in 
Western Europe ; and it is certain that no evidence has yet 
been produced to show that the term " Gypsy " or " Egyptian " 
was used before that date in that part of Europe. But there 
is this to be considered, that genuine Gypsies have often 
been spoken of as " tinkers " (chaudronniers) on account of 
the occupation with which they have long been associated ; 
and that, although there is no known mention of " Gypsies " 
in the British Islands prior to the fifteenth century, there 
are many earlier references to " tinkers " or " tinklers," as 
they are called in Scotland. 

" It is at present by no means certain when the Gypsies 
made their first appearance in England," observes Mr H. T. 
Crofton. " Tinkler can be traced back to about the year 1200. 
Tinker and Tinkler were not uncommon titles at that time. 
Between the years 1165 and 1214 James ' Tinkler' held land 

^ Eustou, Yowston, Yorstoun, Y'orkston, and Alston are the variants given 
by different writers. Mrs Carlyle, however, is exceptional in calling her 
"Margaret," not "Mary." It may be added that the Carlyle references to 
those Baillies will be found in vol. ii. of Mr Fronde's Letters and 3Iemorials 
of Jane Welsh Carlyle, p, 54, and in vol. ii. of Carlyle's Eeminiscences, pp. 
103 and 128. 



TINKERS OR TINKLERS. 5 

in the town of Perth {Liber Ecdesie clc Scon, Edinburgh, 
1843) ; in 1265 ' Editha le Tijnckcre ' Hved at WalHugford, 
in Berkshire {Hist. MSS. Com. 6th Eeport, 1878) ; in 1273 a 
' Thicker ' and ' William cle Tyncher ' lived in Huntingdon- 
shire (Lower's Patronym. Brit, from Himd. Eot.) ; and before 
1294 ' Ralph Tinder ' had a house at Morpeth, in Xorthum- 
berland {Hist. MSS. Com. Qth Rcpoi^t, 1878). All these seem 
to have had fixed abodes, and not to have been of the same 
itinerant class with which we now associate all tinkers, and 
which used to require the epithet ' w'andering ' to distinguish 
them." ^ To the same purpose as the opinion expressed in 
this last sentence is ]\Ir Crof ton's observation made elsewhere,^ 
that " all Gypsies may be pedlars, brasiers, or tinkers, but 
the reverse may not follow." 

While it is quite true that although many Gypsies are 
tinkers, yet all tinkers are not necessarily Gypsies, an argu- 
ment which applies to the past as well as to the present, it 
must be pointed out that the possession of a fixed abode does 
not preclude the " tinker " from being also a " Gypsy." As 
an illustration of this we ha\e the case of a well-known 
Scottish Gypsy of last century, who was the possessor and 
occupier of a house in the small town of Biggar, Lanarkshire.^ 
That this man was a representative of the caste known as 
" tinklers " or " Gypsies " there can be no doubt. If he was 
not a Gypsy, then Simson's History (which certainly construes 
that word too hberally) is altogether erroneously named, and 
none of the people described by him were really Gypsies. 
A similar instance is that of William Marshall, whom Sir 
Walter Scott refers to ^ as " the Caird [Tinker] of Ijarullion, 

^ English Gypsies under the Ttcdors, Manchester, 1880, pp. 1, 2. ^ Notes 
and Queries, July 8, 1876 (5th Series, vi.). ^ This was Matthew Baillie, 
son of the Matthew Baillie who figures in Simson's History of the Gypsies, 
1865, pp. 196-228, and wlio has already been referred to as the brother of 
an ancestor of Mrs Carlyle. His house is mentioned in Biggar and tlic 
House of Fleming (FMinbnrgh, 1867, pji. 413, 414), where it is stated that 
"the back entrance has his initials, M, B., and the date 1752, along with 
the letters M. E. , C. I., and a mason's mark. The title-deeds bear that the 
property was disponed to 'Matthew Biiillie, indweller in Biggar, and Margaret 
Campbell, his spouse, in conjunct fee and liferent, and to John Baillie, 
eldest son of the s;iid Matthew Baillie by his first marriiige, in fee as to one- 
half, and to Rachel and Elizabeth Baillie, daughters of the said Mattliew 
Baillie and Margaret Campbell, as to the other half.' " * In his "Additional 
Note " to Guy Maniicring. 



6 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

King of the Gypsies of the Western Lowlands," who is 
pictured as living in a cottage at Polnure, in Galloway, in 
1789/ Now, Loth of these men, who were imdouhtedly 
Gypsies if Scotland contained any Gypsies during the 
eighteenth century, combined the position of house-dweller 
with that of vagrant. Many similar modern examples, in 
the British Islands and on the Continent, might be adduced ; 
but that would lead us from the point. "VMiat is of more 
importance is to observe that the two house-dwelling " tinkers " 
just mentioned were not exceptional specimens of their class. 
A whole street at Kirk-Yetholm was called " Tinkler Eow " 
because it was inhabited entirely by those very people who 
spent their summers as wandering tinkers. Mention may 
also be made of a Tinkler Eow in Edinburgh and a Tinkler 
Eow in Newcastle,^ while an allusion made by an English 
writer of the sixteentli century shows that certain streets 
in Southwark, London, were then inhabited by tinkers.^ 
But, in the absence of any strong indication that the in- 
habitants of those streets in the towns just named were not 
merely sedentary tinsmiths, these examples may be passed 
over. It is sufficient to remark that the dwellers in the 
" Tinkler Eow " of Kirk-Yetholm were those very people who, 
living a nomadic life during the greater part of the year, have 
always been regarded as most unquestionably Scottish Gypsies. 
Of these Yetholm " tinklers " a writer of the year 1 847 
says : — " Tliey have physical marks in their dusky complexion, 
their Hindoo features, and their black penetrating eyes, 
pecuhar to themselves, and still broader peculiarities of a 

moral kind which defy all doubt as to their being in a 

very emphatic sense Gypsies." ^ If this writer is to be trusted. 



1 BlackiooocVs Magazine, August 1817. ^ Referred to in Richardson's 
Local Historian's Table Book, London, 1844, vol, iv. p. 207. ^ See The 
Rogues and Vagabonds of Shaksperes Youth, compiled by Messrs Yiles and 
Furnivall for the Early English Text Society, reprint of 1880, pp. 35 and 
59. The sixteentli-century writer (Harman) there quoted states that in order 
to recover a caldron of his which had been stolen he sent one of liis men to 
London, " and there gave warning in Sothwarke, Kent Strete, and Baimesey 
Streete, to all the Tynckars there dwelling, that if any such caudron came 
thether to be sold, the bringar thereof should be stayed, and promised twenty 
shyllings for a reward." ^ Gazetteer of Scotland, Edinburgh, 18i7, s.v. "Kirk- 
Yetholin." 



THE YETHOLM TINKLERS. 7 

these Yetholin " tinklers " were racially Gypsies ; but it ought 
to be stated that these people are now dispersed, and therefore 
nothing can be done in the way of verifying this description, 
which is not borne out by the complexion of the late " Queen 
Esther," or her still surviving daughter. Esther, however, 
was really a member of the Blythe clan, described by the 
writer of 1835, previously quoted, as " mostly light-haired 
and of fair complexion." This consideration, indeed, 
qualifies to a certain extent the description just cited. 
Nevertheless, the testimony of the writer of 1847 is quite in 
agreement with that obtained by Mr Hoyland thirty years 
earlier. " So strongly remarkable is the [Yetholm] Gypsey 
cast of countenance, that even a description of them to a 
stranger, who has had no opportunity of formerly seeing them, 
w^ill enable him to know them wherever he meets with them." 
" The progeny of such alliances [marriages between Yetholm 
Gypsies and non-Gypsies] have almost universally the tawny 
I complexion and fine black eyes of the Gypsey parent, whether 
father or mother." Moreover, the Yetholm language, as 
recorded by Baird and Simson, is so clearly a dialect of 
Eomanes, that it entirely bears out the belief that at one 
time or another those Kirk -Yetholm people and their language 
were essentially Gypsy. 

"I have known the colony between forty and fifty years," 
says a writer of about the year 1816.^ "At my first 
remembrance of them they were called the Tinklers (Tinkers) 
of Yetholm, from the males being chiefly then employed in 
mending pots and other culinary utensils, especially in their 
peregrinations through the hilly and less populous parts of the 
country Their residence is at Kirk- Yet- 
holm, and chiefly confined to one row of houses or street of that 
town, which goes by the name of Tinkler Eow. Most of 
them have leases of their possessions, granted for a term of 
nineteen times nineteen years, for paymeift of a small sum 
yearly, something of the nature of a quit-tent. There is no 
tradition in the neighbourhood concerning- the time when the 
Gypsies first took up their residence at that place, nor whence 
they came. Most of their leases, I believe, were granted by 

^ Quoted by Hoyland in liis Historical Survey of the Gypsies, Yoik, 1816, 
p. 98 et seq. 



8 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

the family of the Bennets of Grubet, the last of whom was 
Sir David Bemiet, who died about sixty years ago." 

In order to understand still better the position of these 
people, it is necessary that the following additional statement, 
by the same writer, be quoted : — 

" I remember that about forty-five years ago [about 1770], being 
then apprentice to a writer [solicitor],^ who was in use to receive the 
rents as well as the small duties of Kirk-Yetholm, he sent me there 
with a list of names, and a statement of what was due ; recom- 
mending me to apply to the landlord of the public-house, in the 
village, for any information or assistance which I might need. 

" After waiting a long time and receiving payment from 
most of the feuers, or rentallers, I observed to him that none 
of the persons of the names of Faa, Young, Ely the, Fleckie, itc, 
who stood at the bottom of the list for small sums, had come to 
meet me according to the notice given by the Baron Officer ; and 
proposed sending to inform them that they were detaining me, 
and to request their immediate attendance. 

" The landlord, with a grave face, inquired whether my master 
had desired me to ask money from those men. I said, ' Not par- 
ticularly ; but they stood on the list.' ' So I see,' said the landlord ; 
' but had your master been here himself, he did not dare to ask 
money from them, either as rent or feu-duty. He knoivs that it is as 
good as if it ivere in his pocket. They ivill pay when their own time 
comes, hut do not like to pay at a set time ivith the rest of the Barony; 
and still less to be craved." ^ 

"I accordingly returned without their money, and reported 
progress. I found that the landlord was right. My master said 
with a smile that it was unnecessary to send to them, after the 
previous notice from the Baron Officer ; it was enough if I had 
received the money, if offered. Their rent and feu-duty was 
brought to the office in a few weeks. I need scarcely add, those 
persons all belonged to the tribe." 

From these extracts, then, it will be seen that the Yetholm 
Gypsies of 1770 were a privileged class, hokbng their allot- 
ments, or cottages, " for payment of a small sum yearly ; 
something of the nature of a quit-rent." No pressure was 
brought to bear upon them, as upon the other tenants, when 
they did not come forward with their rents upon the stated 
day. And these possessions were held upon leases granted 
by the former lords of the manor, whose line ended about 
the year 1755 ; and these leases were issued for the long 
period of three hundred and sixty-one years. 

^ Evidently in the neighbouring town of Kelso. - Italicised in original. 



A PRIVILEGED CLASS. » 

Although other interesting accounts might be quoted with 
regard to the Yetholm Gypsies, it is enough to pass from the 
statements just made to the consideration of another section 
of the same people, situated also in southern Scotland. 

" The name of Tinkler continues to be found in old charters 
to a comparatively late period," says one writer, in the 
course of a discussion upon this question. " Thus it appears 
in an old charter, of which I have an extract before me, re- 
ferring to the lands not far from Hightae, where the Gipsies 
— the Faas, the Kennedys, &c., ' the King's kindly tenants,' 
as they were called — long lived, and where some of their 
descendants, I believe, are still living. The charter is dated 
May 31, 1439, the third year of James II. It is by John 
Halliday of Hodholm (now Hoddam), by which he wadsetts 
[mortgages] his lands called Holcroft, a coteland, which was 
sometime belonging to William de Johnstone, and two 
oxgangs of land, which are called the Tynkler's lands, in the 
tenement of Hodholm and lordship of Annandail, to John de 
Carrutheris, Laird of Mouse wald, for 10 1., money lent him 
' in his grete myserie,' dated Mousewald." ^ 

This evidence of Mr Eamage's, if it be reliable throughout, 
is certainly the most important contribution to this question. 
The mere mention of " the Tynkler's lands " in a charter of 
1439 is, taken by itself, of minor importance ; because we 
have already seen that there are references of that kind as 
early as the twelfth century. But when Mr Eamage implies 
that the Tinklers there alluded to were of the well-known 
Scotch Gypsy tribes of Faa and Kennedy, and that these 
Faas and Kennedys were no other than " the king's kindly 
tenants " of Lochmaben, he points to the residence of Gypsies 
.in that part of Scotland as far back as an era that might 
almost be styled " prehistoric." We know that the district 
he speaks of, which is included under the more compre- 

^ Mr C. T. Ramage, Notes and Queries, January 15, 1876 (5th Series, v.). 
" The remainder of Mr Ramage's statements in this place may as well be 
given here, since it funiislics anotlier though a more modern instance of the 
same kind. He adds: — "The name also Tj/?d-eWans Maling [i.e.. Tinkler's 
mailing or farm, from the word /?iaj7 = reut], near Inchinnan, appears in au 
old document, dated April '23, 1530, in a dispute between the Countess- 
Dowager of Lennox and John Sympill of Fulwod, quoted by Sir W. Fraser in 
his work entitled The Lennox (vol. ii, p. 235)." 



10 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS, 

hensive name of Lochmaben, liad a large Gypsy population 
in the eighteenth century.^ And Mr Eamage says, in effect, 
that this population was no other than the peculiar and 
privileged caste known as " the king's kindly tenants." 
; The " kindly tenants " of mediaeval Scotland are defined as 
/" feudal tenants, termed Icindly, from the circumstance of their 
being natives, born on those lands which had been possessed 
by their ancestors for many generations. Such persons were 
seldom ejected, so long as they paid the almost nominal rents 
of those lands, which they were thvis permitted to occupy by 
a sort of hereditary title, after the decease of the former 
tenant. They were styled Nativi in old charters," ^ 

Such were " kindly tenants " in general. Those specially 
known as " the king's kindly tenants of Lochmaben " are 
thus mentioned by Sir Walter Scott : — 

"I cannot dismiss the subject of Lochmaben without noticing an 
extraordinary and anomalous class of landed proprietors, who 
dwell in the neighbourhood of that burgh. These are the inhabi- 
tants of four small villages, near the ancient castle, called the 
Four Towns of Lochmaben. They themselves are termed the 
king's rentallers, or kindly tenants ; under which denomination 
each of them has a right, of an allodial nature, to a small piece of 
ground. It is said that these people are the descendants of Robert 
Bruce's menials, to whom he assigned, in reward of their faithful 
service, these portions of land, burdened only with the payment of 
certain quit-i'ents, and grassums, or tines, upon the entry of a new 

tenant This possession, by rental, or by simple entry upon 

the rent-roll, was anciently a common and peculiarly sacred species 

of property granted by a chief to his faithful followers 

Fortunately for the inhabitants of the Four Towns of Lochmaben 
the maxim that the king can never die prevents their right of pro- 
perty from reverting to the Crown [An attempt having 

been made last century to dispossess them,] the rentallers united 
in their common defence ; and, having stated their immemorial 
possession, together with some favourable clauses in certain old 
Acts of Parliament, enacting that the king's poor kindly tenants of 
Lochmaben should not be hurt, they finally prevailed in an action 
before the Court of Session The kindly tenants of Loch- 
maben live (or at least lived till lately) much sequestered from 
their neighbours, marry among themselves, and are distinguished 
from each other by sobriquets, according to the ancient Border 

i Simson, p. 381, note, "Some of these villages [in the south of Scotland] 
are almost entirely occupied by Gypsies. James Hogg is reported, in Black- 
wood's Magazine, to say that Lochmaben is 'stocked ' with them." ^ Pitcairn's 
Criminal Trials, Edinburgh, 1833, vol, iii. p, 366, note. 



"THE king's KINDLY" TENANTS OF LOCHMABEN." 11 

custom. You meet among their writings with such names as John 
Out-bye, Will In-bye, White-Fish, Eed-Fish, &c. They are tena- 
ciously obstinate in defence of their privileges of commonty, Arc, 
which are numerous. Their lands are, in general, neatly enclosed 
and well cultivated, and they form a contented and industrious 
little community. 

"Many of these particulars are extracted from MSS. of ]Mr Syme, 
writer to the signet. Those who are desirous of more information 
may consult Craig, De Feudis, lib. ii., dig. 9, sec. 24." ^ 

To Scott's account may be added a reference to another 
writer, who states that the ancestors of " kindly tenants " in 

general were of the class of " villcyns (adscripti glchm), 

literally slaves," and that tliose of Lochmaben were probably 
freed at the end of the thirteenth century ; after which 
" they got the name of free tenants, and afterwards the king's 
kindly tenants." This writer mentions the principal surnames 
of those Lochmaben people, among which are many well- 
known South-Scottish names, common to Gypsies and to 
non-Gypsies. It is noteworthy that he does not include the 
name of " Faa " among these.^ 

Neither of the writers last quoted give any hint that 
they regarded " the king's kindly tenants of Lochmaben " as 
Gypsies, or even as tinkers. This silence is undoubtedly not 
to be ignored. On the other hand, James Hogg, who was 
intimately acquainted with the Scottish Borderland, states 
that Lochmaben was " stocked " with Gypsies ; while Mr 
Eamage says outright that those " kindly tenants " were 
Gypsies, and had dwelt there from time immemorial. What 
is even more important is the fact that this peculiai' 
Lochmaben caste existed on a footing nearly identical witli 
that of the Yetholm Gypsies. In either case, we have a 
privileged class of " rentallers," holding their property on 
" an almost nominal rent," and understood to have occupied 
that position for an unknown number of centuries. 

When, therefore, the peculiar position and unknown 
history of the Yetholm " Tinklers " is considered, together 
with the peculiarities attaching to the possibly kindred caste 

^ Tlie Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, note to "The Loelimaben Harper." 
^ For this reference see Lochmahen Five Hundred Years Ago, by tlie Rev. 
W. Graham, Edinburgh, 1865, ch. vii. See also Bell's Dictionary of the Law 
of Scotla.iui, 7th ed., Edinburgh, 1890, s.v. " Kindly Tenants, or Rentallers," 
and "Lochiualii'ii." 



12 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

at Lochmaben, and with the known existence of " Tinklers " 
in Scotland as far back as the twelfth century (as witnessed 
by documents — not to speak of tradition and archaeology), 
it is difficult to avoid the deduction that Gypsies were 
known in Scotland as early as the twelfth century. Only, 
it is necessary to prove first that " Tinkler " is truly 
synonymous with " Gypsy." 

And this is very far from being proved at present. There 
is no doubt that " tinker " or " tinkler " has very often been 
employed as equivalent to " Gypsy." For example, the 
parish of Eaglesham, in Eenfrewshire, is stated to have been 
formerly much " oppressed " by " Gypsies, commonly called 
tinklers, or randy beggars."^ And the writer of an article 
in an Edinburgh journal of the year 1818 speaks of " the 
Gypsies, or Tinklers, as they are generally called in the 
county of Lanark." Of this usage there can be no question. 
Further, the swarthy complexion of the "tinkler" is seen, 
for example, in the song which Simson gives as sung by 
Scottish peasant -mothers to their babies— 

" Hush ye, hush ye, dinna fret ye, 
The black Tinkler winna get ye." 

Nevertheless, distinct evidence has not hitherto been pro- 
duced to show that the " tinkler " of the centuries preceding 
the fifteenth was of swarthy complexion, and those who are 
disposed to believe that he was not are quite entitled to 
assume that incoming Gypsies of true Eomani blood have 
leavened an earlier white-skinned " tinker " stock within the 
last three or four centuries. 

^ statistical Account of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1791, vol. ii. 124. 



CHAPTER II. 

IT is evident, therefore, that the word " tinker " or 
" tinkler," although often applied to genuine Gypsies, 
cannot be regarded as actually synonymous with " Gypsy." 
A similar uncertainty attaches to the word " faw." 

Under the forms Faw, Faa, and Fall it has figured conspicu- 
ously as a Gypsy surname for about four centuries, especially 
in connection with the Border districts. " In Northumber- 
land," says one writer,^ " the name has become generic for the 
whole tribe of travelling tinkers and muggers, who, in that 
county, are much more frequently called Faas than Gypsies." 
So mucli is this the case that Wright, in his Provincial 
Dictionary, defines " Faw " as signifying " an itinerant tinker, 
potter &c. ; " and Halliwell, in quoting the Cumberland term 
of a " Faw-gang," or " a gang of faws," refers to a certain 
"Francis Heron, King of the Faios^ who was buried at / 
Jarrow in 1756. " One thing is certain," observes a wrij^er 
in Wilson's Tales of the Borders^ " that the name Faa not bnly 
was given to individuals whose surname might be Fall, but 
to the Winters and Clarkcs — id genus omne — Gipsy families 
well known on the Borders." In this general sense the word 
has been employed by Mr Walter Besant, in a Christmas 
tale (1882), wherein he says :- — " There were waggoners to 
talk with, friendly hawkers, whom the people call muggers 
[i.e., potters], and faws, or tinkers, who are too often robbers 
and pilferers."^ Fuller evidence in the same direction is fur- 
nished by Mr Joseph Lucas, in his Yetholm History of the 

^ Stephen Oliver, Rambles in Northumhcrland, London, 1835, p. 271. ^ See 
"The Faa's Revenge." •* In his novel oi Dorothy Fur stcr, the scene of which 
is laid in Northumberland, Mr Besant makes a notewortliy reference (p. 3.) 
to "ghosts, spectres, witches, warlocks, elves, demons, fairies ov faws, want's, 
warnings, and other strange manifestations and mysterious powers ; " hut he 
offers no explanation for the identity thus suggested between the terms 
" fairy " and " faw." 



14 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Gypsies} where he gives a series of extracts from Sykes's 
Local Records (1833) ; and as these throw considerable light 
upon the subject t-hey may fitly be quoted here : — 

(Vol. i. p. 196) — 1750, Aug. 27. — James Macfidum, alias Mac- 
farlane, was executed at Durham for robbing Robert Hopes, a boy 

about ten years old This man and woman were part of a 

fjanrj of Faivs who, for many years, had infested that neighbour- 
hood. 

(P. 201)— 1752, Apr. 13. — The following felons from Morpeth Gaol 
were put on board the Owner's Goodwill, Capt. Moorland, in order 
to be ti'ansported to So. Carolina for seven years, among 17 — 
viz., J. Fall and Margaret, his wife ; William Fall and Jane, his 

wife These felons were part of the very numerous gangs 

of Faws who infested the county of Northumberland, and who were 
incessantly shopbreaking and plundering. Fourteen were adver- 
tised as having returned within two years, and were again lurking 
about Northumberland. See also E. Mackenzie. History of Nev;- 
castle, 1827, vol. i. p. 57. 

(P. 203)—] 752, July 1 1.— Seven of the gang of Faws, who had been 
a terror to Rothbury and its neighbourhood, were apprehended, 
and sent to Morpeth Gaol. Several more were pursued to the 
mountains ; but could not be come at. Various of the goods 
belonging to the owniers of siiops which had been broken into at 
Morpeth, etc., were found in their possession. 

(P. 209)— 1754, Aug. 24. — A woman named Elizabeth Rochester 
made her escape from Durham Gaol. She was one of the gang of 
Faivs, or strolling depredators, who infested the northern counties 
at this period. 

(P. 213)— 1756, Jan. 13.— In the burial register of Jarrow Church 
under this date, occurs "Francis Heron, king of y^ Faws" (Sharpe, 
Chronicon Mirabile). 

(P. 261) — 1767, Apr. 18. — Richard Clark was executed at York for 
breaking into a house near Knaresborough. As this man was one 
of the Faw-gang which so long infested the county of Northumber- 
land, it may not be uninteresting to relate the particulars of his 
life [which the writer therefore proceeds to do]. 

Another reference to the same people is given in Tom- 
linson's Comprehensive Guide to Northumherland, p. 309 : — 

" One Margaret Crozier was murdered, 29th Aug. 1791, at Haws 
Pele, 3 miles N. of Elsdon, by William Winter, a desperate character, 
'at the instigation and with the assistance of two female faws 
(vendors of crockery and tinwork) named Jane and Eleanor Clark, 
who, in their wanderings, had experienced the kindness of Margaret 
Crozier. The day before, they had rested and dined in a sheepfold, 
and they were identified by a shepherd boy who had taken parti- 
1 Kelso, 1882, pp. 127, 128. 



THE FAWS. 15 

cular notice of the number and character of the nails in Winter's 
shoes, and also the peculiar gulley or butcher's knife with which 
he had divided the food. All three were hanged at Newcastle, and 
Winter's body was hung in chains within sight of his victim's 
house." 

Winter is thus described by another writer : — 

" This man belonged to a family which was one of the worst of a 
bad gang oi faws, itinerant tinkers, who formerly infested this 
jDart of Northumberland in considerable numbers, robl)ing and 
threatening the small farmers, who would not allow them to lodge 
in their out-houses, and who did not, either in jDrovisions or money, 
23ay them a kind of hlack-maiL Winter is described, by the country 
peoi^le who remember him, as a tall, powerful man, of dark com- 
l^lexion, wearing his long black hair hanging about his shoulders, 
and of a most savage countenance. The appearance of this ruffian 
in a small village was a signal for the inhabitants to close their 
doors ; Avhile he, as if proud of the terror which he inspired, would 
keep walking back and forward, with his arms a-kimbo, on the 
green." ^ 

From these various extracts it is evident that the name 
" Faw " has long been used on the Borders to denote the 
Gypsy or semi-Gypsy castes,^ although the people spoken of 
as " Faws " bore, in a great many cases, such surnames as 
Winter, Clark, Heron, or Eochester, and only occasionally 
were actually named " Fall," otherwise " Faw." 

This circumstance may be explained in two ways. It is 
quite possible that one influential family, distinguished by t*Pr^ 
surname of Faw, or Fall, had imposed that name upon all the 
inferior families over which it held sway ; or that the non- 
Gypsy population, recognising that Faw, or Fall, was one of 
the most famous names among the Gypsies, had applied it 
loosely to the whole people. Such a usage exists, or lately 
existed, in Yorkshire, where Bos well, or Bosvile, is a cele- 
brated Gypsy surname. From this fact has arisen the local 
saying " as black as a Bozzle," which denotes, as pointed out 
by Mr F. H. Groome, " as black as a Gypsy," — not neces- 
'sarily one bearing the name of Boswell. Similarly, I am 
informed that the arrival of " the Kennedys " in Thornliill, 
or one of the neighbouring villages of Dumfriesshire, was 
understood by everyone to mean the arrival of " the Gypsies," 

^ Oliver's Rnmhlcs in Northutnherland, London, 1835, p. 113. ^ Mr Thomas 
Davidson, to whom I am indehted for tlie extract from Tomlinsoii's Guide, 
informs me that this usage still obtains in Northumberland. 



16 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Kennedy being the surname of most of them in that quarter. 
On the other hand, the word may be derived from the 
Anglo-Saxon fah, faio, or fall, signifying " parti-coloured." 
A good illustration of the use of this adjective is found in the 
name of the town of Falkirk, which, often yet pronounced as 
FcC or Fatv-'kixk, was formerly written " the Faw-kirk," and 
in Latin and Gaelic was respectively known as Varia Capella 
and Eaglais Bhreac. In all three languages the adjective 
signifies " parti-coloured," and there are several good reasons 
for assuming that it was in this sense that " faw," or " fall," 
was first applied to Gypsies. But whichever of these may 
be the right explanation of the origin of this usage, it is 
evident that it is one of old standing. And from this fact 
one might draw an inference pointing again to the conclusion 
that Gypsies have been in this country for a longer period 
than is generally imagined. Describing the Yetholm Gypsies 
one writer says : — " Nearly the whole of them are ' muggers,' 
wandering dealers in earthenware ; "^ and we have seen that 
Wright defines a " faw " as " an itinerant tinker, potter" &c. 
Now, there is a passage in Blind Harry's Wallace (book vi. 
lines 435-460) which describes an encounter between Wallace 
and an itinerant potter, somewhere between Culter and 
Biggar, in Lanarkshire. According to Border terminology, 
this man was a " faw " ; therefore, if the testimony of Harry 
the Minstrel is worth anything, — and, of course, it is far 
from being authoritative, — there were " faws " in the Biggar 
district during the thirteenth century, as certainly there were 
some centuries later. 

Similar deductions might be drawn if one were to consider 
such terms as caird, or homer, both appropriately given to 
Scottish Gypsies, but both indicating castes and occupations 
of very old date in Scotland. Much also might be said on 
the subject of itinerant " kaulkers," and " keelers," or " keel- 
men," otherwise " ruddlemen." It could be shown that 
Gypsies have often been associated with, and in some cases 
identified with, those wandering vendors of ruddle, or 
haematite, — castes that have existed in these islands for a 
very long period. But although Gypsies have, in a great 
many cases, followed occupations such as these, it is 
1 Gazetteer of Scotland, 1847, s.v. " Kirk- Yetholm." 



SORNERS. 17 

impossible to assert that all who followed such occupations 
were Gypsies. 

Equal doubt attaches to certain references which Mr 
Crofton and others have assumed as possibly, if not probably, 
indicating Gypsies ; for example, an Act of the Scottish 
Parliament of the year 1449 directed against " sorners [people 
who forcibly quartered themselves upon others], over-liers, 
and masterful beggars, with horse, hounds, or other goods." 
This Act, it has been pointed out,^ aims at a class answering 
to the earlier Gypsies of the Continent, as described by 
Krantz ; and there is no doubt that the comparison is a true 
one. Moreover, we find that when " Egyptians " eventually 
come to be named in the Scottish Acts of Parliament, the 
Act directed against them is also directed against people 
addicted to the habits which the edict of 1449 aims at sup- 
pressing. Not only that, but these habits, and other 
characteristics of such people, are precisely the liabits and 
characteristics of the Scottish Gypsies as these are portrayed 
in Simson's History. But, again, this difficulty occurs. If 
we accept the Act of 1449 as referring to Gypsies, although 
it does not name them, then there is no reason why we 
should limit ourselves to so modern a date as 1449 for 
evidence of the presence of Gypsies in Scotland, because there 
are very good grounds for believing that the class of people 
legislated against in 1449 had existed in Scotland for a long 
period prior to that date. Whether such people were really 
Gypsies has never been convincingly demonstrated. 

The crime of " sorning," however, was so closely associated 
with the Gypsies that Baron Hume specially considers it 
when discussing the crime of " being an Egyptian." And, as 
his remarks throw considerable light upon the position of 
the Gypsies, in the latter part of the Stewart period, they 
are deserving of quotation here. He observes as follows : — 

" Along with tliat of being an Egyptian, we may rank the kin- 
dred, and also capital offence of Sorning ; being one of the many 
evil habits' to which that profligate and sturdy crew have every- 
where been addicted. By sorning we understand the masterful 
taking of meat and drink without payment ; a thing which in the 
former undisciplined condition of this country (happily very 
different from what it now is) was easily accomi^lished by those 

^ See vol. i. of the Journal of the Gypsij-Lorc Society, p. 6. 

B 



18 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

numerous bands of dissolute and lawless people, more especially in 
remote and solitary situations, where they chiefly haunted, by the 
very terror of their looks and language, and their known violent 
and revengeful temper. The state of Scotland in this respect was 
indeed deplorable, if we may trust the description that is given of 
the numbers and the manners of those vagabond fraternities, by one 
who was able to judge and had opportunity of knowing. Fletcher 
of Salton affirms, in a treatise written in 1698, that the numbers 
who lived as vagabonds, even in ordinary times (and in that year 
of dearth they were twice as many) amounted to at least a hundred 
thousand ; who might be seen on all occasions of public meeting, 
both men and women, perpetually drunk, cursing and blaspheming, 
and fighting with each other ; who lived without any regard or 
subjection to the laws of the land, or even those of God and nature ; 
fathers incestuously accompanying with their own daughters, the 
son with the mother, and the brother with the sister ; ■" and of whom 
no magistrate could discover that ever they were baptised, or which 
way one in a hundred of them died. ' They were not only (says he) 
a most unspeakable oppression to poor tenants (who if they give 
not bread or some kind of provision to perhajDS forty such villains 
in one day, are sure to be insulted by them), but they rob many 
poor peojjle, who live in houses distant from any neighbourhood.'"^ 

It seems pretty clear that the people described by Fletcher 
of Salton were the Scottish Gypsies. His account may 
be one-sided, and indeed it is, — for he ignores many other 
aspects of Gypsy life. But any reader of Simson's History 
will see that the Gypsies described by him as vagabonds and 
" sorners " in the eighteenth century, were very distinctly 
the representatives, and presumably the descendants, of 
Fletcher's seventeenth-century vagabonds and " sorners." As 
already pointed out, however, the term " sorner " is too com- 
prehensive to be held as equivalent to " Gypsy." 

After consideration of the various statements made in 
this and the preceding chapter, the point to be established 
seems to be this — Did Gypsies inhabit Scotland for a much 
longer period than is popularly supposed, although (for one 
reason or another) they are not designated by the name of 

^ A writer in Blackwood's Magazine, April, 1817, speaking of the Teviot- 
dde and Tweeddale Gypsies during the eighteenth century, states: — "The 
crimes that were committed among this hapless race were often atrocious. 
Incest and murder were frequent among them." Compare also the accusation 
of incest in the trial at Scalloway, in 1612, cited p. 53, post. And it may be 
added that this also is one of the crimes attributed to the English Gypsies by 
Dekker {Lanthorne and Candle Light, 1609). - Hume, O}). cit., vol. i. p. 475. 



GYPSIES AND OTHER NOMADS, 19 

" Egyptian " until the fifteenth century ? Or did they enter 
Scotland for the first time in the fifteenth century, and, find- 
ing there an already-existing caste of nomadic, " magic-work- 
ing " tinkers, muggers, pedlars, ballad-singers, mountebanks, 
&c. (as unquestionably there was), proceed to affiliate them- 
selves with those castes, whom they eventually leavened to 
a considerable degree with Romani blood and Eomani speech ? 
As a matter of personal opinion I may say that the former 
of these two questions is the one which, for various reasons, 
I am disposed to answer in the affirmative. But those who 
take the opposite view have much to say in support of their 
belief. It is certainly the case that no instance of the 
application of the term " Gypsy " or " Egyptian " to any 
caste within the British Islands at any period preceding the 
fifteenth century has yet been brought to light. 

Having thus considered, to at least as great an extent as 
our space allows, the question of Gypsy-like castes not styled 
" Gypsies " or " Egyptians," we may pass on to examine the 
various references to people so designated. 



CHAPTEE III. 

THE earliest period at which Gypsies are definitely 
stated to have inhabited Scotland is the latter half 
of the fifteenth century. But even here the evidence is 
traditional rather than historical. That is to say, if there 
is any contemporaneous document proving the statements to 
be presently quoted, that document has not yet been brought 
forward. However, in spite of the want of positive con- 
firmation, these traditional accounts have too much value to 
be overlooked. 

Two dates in particular are singled out — the period 
1452-60, and the year 1470. The event placed in the first 
of these periods has already been noticed by Simson,^ 
Crofton,^ and others. The scene of its occurrence was the 
province of Galloway, in the south-west of Scotland, and one 
of the principal figures was the young heir of the then impor- 
tant family of Maclellan of Bombie, whose ancestral estate lay 
near the town of Kirkcudbright, in that province. It is in 
the history of this family, afterwards ennobled with the title 
of " Lord Kirkcudbright," that one learns of this tradition ; 
and one account is that given by Crawfurd, a genealogist of 
the beginning of last century. 

Crawfurd states^ that, after having been forfeited in the 
middle of the fifteenth century — 

" The Bai'ony of Bonihie was again recovered by the Jfaclellans, 
as the Tradition goes, after this Manner. In the same Eeign [that 
of James II. of Scotland], says an Author of no small credit (Sir 
George Mackenzie in his Baronage MS.) it liapi^ned that a Com- 
pany of Saracens or Gipsies from Ireland infested the country of 
Galloivay ; whereujoon the King emitted a Proclamation, bearing, 
That whoever should disperse them, and bring in their Captain dead 
or alive, should have the Barony of Bombie for his Reward. So it 

1 History, ji. 99. - Tudors, p. 3. » The Peerage of Scotlatid, Edinburgh, 
1716, p. 238. 



SARACENS IN GALLOWAY. 21 

chanced that a brave young Gentleman, the Laird of Bomhie's Son, 
fortun'd to kill the Person for which the Reward was promised, 
and he brought his Head on the point of his Sword to the King, 
and thereui^on he was immediately seized [vested] in the Barony of 
Bomhie ; and to perpetuate the ^Memory of that bra^•e and remark- 
able Action, he took for his Crest a Move's Head on the jDoint of a 
Sword, and Think On for his Motto." 

Although Crawfurd is not the first in chronological order 
who mentions this tradition, he is here quoted first because 
he unhesitatingly applies the term " Gypsy " to the " Moors " 
or " Saracens " of his story. What were his grounds for 
believing that the three terms were all equally applicable 
does not appear. It will be seen that the very writer 
whom he quotes does not speak of those people as " Gyjisies." 

The writer referred to — Sir George Mackenzie, a famous 
Scottish lawyer of the seventeenth century — in the course 
of a treatise upon Crests, observes that — 

" Sometimes it [the crest] represents some valiant Act done by 
the Bearer, thus MdeU.and of Bomhie did, and now the Lord Kirk- 
cudbright [his ennobled descendant], does bear a naked Arm, sup- 
porting on the point of a sword a Mores head ; because Bomhie [the 
ancestral estate] being forfeited, his Son kill'd a More, who came 
in with some Sarazens to infest Galloway ; to the Killer of whom 
the King had promised the Forfeiture of Bomhie; and thereuiDon 
was restored to his Fathers land, as his Evidents yet testilie." ^ 

Here, it will be 'seen, the term " Gypsy " is not employed ; 
and this is noteworthy, as the passage just quoted was 
written i:hirty-six years earlier than Crawfurd's version, 
Mackenzie here speaks of the leader of the depredators as 
" a Moor who came in with some Saracens to infest 
Galloway." " Moor " (Lat. maurus) has within recent times 
become somewhat restricted in its meaning, but when Sir 
George Mackenzie wrote it signified any person of dark 
complexion. The English settlers in New England, for 
example, spoke of the American Indians as " Moors." ^ 
" Saracen " also appears to have had a tolerably wide appli- 
cation at one time, and although sometimes applied to 
Gypsies (notably in France), it can hardly be held to denote, 
of itself, anything more definite than " foreigner," or perhaps 

^ 77tc Science of Herauldry, by Sir George Mackenzie of Ross-haugh, 
Knight, Edinburgh, 1680, p. 90. - News from Nevi Ewjland, London, 1676 ; 
reprinted at Boston and Albany, U.S., IS.'iO ami 1865. 



22 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

especially an Eastern foreigner. However, another version 
of Sir George Mackenzie's shows that in this instance he 
regarded the whole of those " Saracens " as dark-skinned men, 
or " Moors." This version appears to be the " Baronage MS." 
referred to by Crawfurd ; although, curiously enough, it does 
not employ the term " Gypsy " introduced by that writer. 
As it differs slightly from those already quoted, this account 
may also be given. After describing Lord Kirkcudbright's 
armorial bearings, Sir George Mackenzie proceeds: — 

" His predicessor was M'Lellan of Bom by. Ther is a tradition 
that one of his predicessors being forfaulted [forfeited], his air 
[heir] having killed a moar who hade brought in a ship full of 
mores to Galloway, and against whom the King hade emitted ane 
proclamation that who ever should bring in the mores head should 
have the lands of Bomby then in the King's hand by forfaltur, gott 
his fathers lands again, and took for his crest the mores head upon 
a dager bleeding, and for his motto these w^ords, Think On, because 
he desyred the King to think on his promise." ^ 

From these accounts, then, it appears that a tradition was 
prevalent in Galloway two centuries ago, according to which 
that district had been ravaged, two centuries earlier, by 
a band of Moors or Saracens, styled " Gypsies " by a writer 
of the year 1716. And of such importance were these 
people that a royal proclamation was issued, offering a 
manorial estate to whoever should slay th» " Saracen " leader. 
As it happened, the fortunate \n.ctor was the young heir of 
the family which had owned this estate before its forfeiture ; 
and he thereupon was " restored to his fathers' land, as his 
evidents yet testifie." It is possible that these " evidents " 
may still be in existence at the present day, in which case 
they would surely throw some light upon the event.^ But 
one thing apparent is, that if the " Moors " of the story were 
really " Gypsies," then Gypsies occupied a very much more 
important position four centuries ago than at any subsequent 
date. Neither in this century nor in the last would a landed 
estate have been held out as a reward for the capture of a 
Gypsy chief in any country of Europe ! 

^ " Collections of the Most Remarkable Accounts that relate to the Families 
of Scotland, by Sir George Mackenzie, His Majesty's Advocate." — Advocates' 
Library, Edinburgh, MSS. 34/3/19. - The title of Maclellan, Lord Kirkcud- 
bright, has been dormant since the death of the ninth lord iu 1832 ; but the 
family charters may have been preserved. 



THE IMPORTATIOX OF GYPSIES. 23 

But it is not by any means made clear that the swarthy 
depredators of 1452-60 were Gypsies. And Simson does 
well to point out that the Algerian corsairs were accustomed 
to make descents upon the British coasts even so recently as 
the seventeenth century.^ It is true that the question of 
the ethnological ingredients of these " corsairs " would here 
have to be considered ; and one writer asserts ^ that a race 
of North African " Zingari " figured prominently among the 
conquerors of Barbary and Spain. Gypsy corsairs in the Eed 
Sea and the Indian Ocean we have already heard of; but to 
regard the Algerine pirates as, in any degree, " Gypsies " is 
an idea that will less readily find favour. Xevertheless, the 
belief that the " Gitanos " were descended from the Moors 
had a good many supporters in Spain at one time. And it 
is remarkable that while the British Isles were for centuries 
subject to the depredations of swarthy pirates from Algiers, 
who received white renegades into their ranks, and who pre- 
sumably left some traces of their blood in those places where 
they lauded, yet no trace whatever of an Arabic form of 
speech is found in these islands (outside of the domain- of 
science). Whereas the Gypsies, who figure visibly as swarthy 
marauders, " land-pirates " at the least, at the very same 
period, and who also admitted renegades into their ranks, 
have unquestionably left their mark both in the speech 
and the physique of certain British castes. Moreover, it is 
to be noted that the English Parliament passed an Act in 
1554, by which anyone " importing " Gypsies into England 
after 31st January 1555 should forfeit forty pounds, while 
"any Gypsy so imported who remained in England one 
month should be deemed a felon, and forfeit his life." ^ From 
this it is evident that a practice of " importing " Gypsies had 
become intolerable in England in 1554, and it is quite reason- 
able to suppose that a similar state of things had existed in 
Scotland. 

Whatever the grounds for Crawfurd's statement that the 

^ This well-known fact, mentioned by Mr Stanley Lane-Poole in his 
Barhary Corsairs, has received some additional comments in the Journal of 
the Royal Society of Antif[uaries of Ireland, vol. i.. No. 2, 1890, pp. 167, 168. 
It appears that tlie Algerines of 1631-36 were frequently spoken of as "Turks." 
2 Gyp. -Lore Soc. Jour., ii. 200. ^ Mr H. T. Crofton, Gyp. -Lure Sac. Jour,, 
i. 13. 



24 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Galloway "Moors" or" Saracens " of 1452-60 were " Gypsies," 
he wrote at a time (1716) when the Gypsies of Galloway were 
still a formidable body, acting under a certain famous leader 
whose family are said to have been "tinklers in the south of 
Scotland time out of mind." If Crawfurd merely assumed 
that the Galloway GyjDsies of 1716 were the representatives 
of those " Moors " who had similarly terrorised that province 
in the fifteenth century, the assumption was natural enough. 
But the whole history of that memorable incident must be 
more closely inquired into before any decisive conclusion can 
be drawn. Certainly the later versions given by tradition 
do not do much towards dispelling the obscurity.-^ 

Although it is impossible to do justice to the subject 
within our present limits, it is necessary to add, in support 
of the foregoing remarks, that very much may be said on 
behalf of the theory that the terms Moor, Morisco, and Morris, 
or Moorish, have probably been applied, in a good number of 
cases, to Gypsies. More than one reference could be added 
which seems to indicate that the Morris-dance was kept up 
in England till the present century, notably by the Gi/psies. 
And this association seems to have been distinctly recognised 
in Scotland. Thus, an annotator of the Poems of James I. 

^ Kirkcudbright tradition tells of a certain " Blackimore," " Black 
Morrow," or " Black Murray," who inhabited a wood near that town, still 
known as the "Black Morrow Wood." "Antiquarians say the sum of 50^. 
was offered by the king for his head, dead' or alive ; that one of the M'Lellans 
of Kirkcudbright took to the wood single-handed with a dirk, found the 
outlaw sleeping, and drove it through his head. With the cash he bought 
the estate of Bamiagauchen, in Borgue ; the foundation of the ' head on the 
dagger' in the M'Lellan's coat of arms." So snys a local writer of the year 
1824 (Mactaggart, in his Gallovidian Encyclopedia,, reprinted London and 
Glasgow, 1876, s.-y. " Black Morrow "). Another writer states : — "Tradition 
affirms that the Outlaw above alluded to w'as a foreigner — a runaway from 
some vessel which had put in at the Manxman's Lake ; that he used to cross 
the Dee in a small boat, to the opposite coast of Borgue, where he committed 
many depredations." And so on with the story of his death at the hands of 
young Maclellan [Historical aiid Traditional Talcs, <i:c., Kirkcudbright, 1843, 
p. 112). One phase of the story, as given in both of these accounts, and 
which is here omitted as irrelevant, is certainly not peculiar to that district, 
but is met with in at least one other part of Scotland. But it is clear that 
the "Blackamoor" of both versions, stated in each to have been killed by 
young Maclellan, is the same as the chief of the "Moors" or "Saracens" 
whom Sir George Mackenzie speaks of as remembered in tradition as far 
Lack as 1680. 



MOORS AND THE MORRICE DANCE. 25 

of Scotland, writing in 1783/ explains a reference to the 
" Moreiss danss " in these words : — " Morrice or Moorish 
dances, rather of slow, solemn movement, performed usually 
by gipsies after the Moorish manner." Whether or not the 
dance originated with them,^ therefore, the Morrice-dancers 
of Scotland appears to have been " usually " Gypsies. Con- 
sequently, when, as pointed out by Mr Crofton,^ a sum of 
forty shillings was paid to " the Egyptians that danced before 
the King [of Scotland] in Holyrood house," in the year 1530, 
it may with tolerable certainty be assumed that the Morris- 
dance was at least included in the performance. And when 
a sum of seven pounds (Scotch money) was paid "to the 
Egyptians by the King's command," * on 22d April 1505, it 
was not unlikely intended as remuneration for similar services. 
The two last references show, at least, that in the early part 
of the sixteenth century " Egyptians " were paid dancers ; or, 
if the entry of 1505 does not prove this, that of 1530 does. 
Now, a Scottish poet of that very period (William Dunbar), 
in describing the evening amusements of the nobility and 
gentry then resident in Edinburgh, states that — 

" Some sings, some dances, some tell stories ; 
Some late at even brings in the Moreis." 

This last term, as we have seen, denotes the Morris-dancers ; 
and if these were "usually" Gypsies, as the writer of 1783 
states, then the " Moreis " of Dunbar could hardly fail to be 
some of those " Egyptians " whose presence in Edinburgh is 
recorded in 1505 and 1530.^ Here, then, as in the Galloway 

^ Poetical Remains of James the First, King of Scotland, Edinburgh, 
printed for J. & E. Balfour, 1783, p. 170, note. '^ Dr E. Lovarini states tliat 
the Moresca "was a favourite dance of the Gypsies, who mention it in some 
of their songs, and who had perhaps introduced it into Europe " {Gyp. -Lore Soc. 
Jour., in. 189). ^ Gyp. -Lore Soc. Jour., i. 9. * Quoted by Mr Crofton, op. cit., 
p. 7. * Nor does it seem imperative that we should limit ourselves to the terms 
"Moor" and "Egj-ptian" in looking for probable Gypsies at this period. 
We have seen that the "Plgyptians" were paid for dancing before the 
Scottish King in 1530, and that the King also remunerated the same kind 
of people in 1505. But when, in 1491, a sum of thirty "unicorns" was 
paid "to the Spaniards that danced before the King on the causeway of 
Edinburgh before the Treasurer's lodging " {Accounts of the Lord Iliijh 
Treasurer of Scotland, 1473-1498 a.d., Edinburgh, 1877), may we not see 
in these peojde a company of Spanish Gypsies? Dr Thomas Dickson remaiks 
in this connection, in his valuable Prefaco to these "Accounts" (p. cclx, 



26 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Story, we have the term " Egyptian " or " Gypsy " identified 
with " Morrow " or " Moor." 

Without attempting to pursue this analogy further, let us 
turn to the second traditionary notice of Gypsies in Scotland 
during the fifteenth century. Like the Galloway story, this 
also is associated with the history of a noble family. Although 
the event is placed in the year 1470, the earliest record of it 
that has come under my notice is of so recent a date as 1835, 
where it forms the groundwork of a romantic tale.^ But as 
the chronicler was well versed in the traditional lore of 
Southern Scotland, the date named by him (1470) may 
actually be the true one. This is the tradition, as given in 
a more serious work : "^ — 

" Hermiston, or Herdmanston, an estate in the parish of JSalton, 
in East Lothian. There are still some remains here of an ancient 
castle or fortalice of the Siaclairs, of which the following tradition 
is related : — In the year 1470, Marion and Margaret Sinclair, co- 
heiresses of Polwarth, being in the full possession of their estates of 
Polwarth and Kimmergham, were decoyed by their uncle Sinclair 
to his castle of Herdmanston, in East Lothian, and there they were 
cruelly detained prisoners. The feudal system then reigned in all 
its horrors, and every baron had the power of life and death within 
his territory. The two young heiresses were in great perjDlexity 

note : — "Many of the performers of this class appear to have been Spaniards ; " 
and he cites two similar payments out of the Privy Purse of England — one 
"to a mayde that came out of Spayne and daunsed before the Quene," and 
another "to a Spaynyard that tumbled" — in evidence of this. We know 
that there were Gypsies in Spain as early as 1447, and that when she tried 
to get rid of these people at a later date the edict against them referred to at least 
a se3tion of them as mountebanks or " fools." Whether those " Spaniards " 
of 1491 came voluntarily to Scotland or not, to what caste of the Spanish 
people were they so likely to belong as to that of the "Gypsies"? That 
Spanish Gyp.sies should sometimes be called " Spaniards" in other countries 
is not at all unlikely. There are a score of instances in which Gypsies 
received the name of the country from which they came. For one appro- 
priate illustration I am indebted to Mr Groome. A female mountebank who 
came to England about the year 1689 is referred to by one writer of the time 
as a "Dutch" and by another as a "High German" woman. "Oh, what 
a charming sight it was," says one of these writers, "to see Madam what 
d'ye call her, the High German woman, swim it along the stage between her 
two gipsrj daughters " {Notes and Queries, 2nd S., viii., Aug. 27, 1859). There- 
fore, just as this nominally "German" woman was obviously a Gypsy, so 
with equal probability were those professional dancers from Spain also 
Gypsies. ^ " Polwarth on the Green," in John Mackay "Wilson's Tales of the 
Borders. ^ Gazetteer of Scotland, Edinburgh, FuUarton & Co., 1847, vol. i. 
pp. 773, 774. 



A GYPSY CAPTAIN IX EAST LOTHIAN. 27 

and terror. Marion, the eldest, conveyed a letter by the hands of 
Johnny Faa, captain of a gang of gipsies, to George Home, the 
young Baron of Wedderburn, her lover, acquainting him of her own 
and her sister's perilous situation ; upon the receipt of which the 
Baron and his brother Patrick set out with a hundred chosen men 
to relieve the two fair captives, which they achieved not without 
the loss of lives on both sides, as Sinclair made a stout resistance 
with all the force he could collect." 

According to this tradition, therefore, the Gypsies — and 
in parti cnlar that division styled " Faas " or " Faws " — were 
estabhshed in the south-east of Scotland in the year 1470. 
On what historical basis the story rests remains to be 
determined. 

One thing certain is that people bearing the name of Faw 
were settled in East Lothian at a period not very much 
subsequent to 1470 ; for the Eegister of the Great Seal of 
Scotland shows that, in 1507, a" John Faw "and a" Patrick 
Faw " each occupied a half-bovate of land in that county. 
They do not figure as incomers at that date, and there is 
nothing to show that they and their fathers had not been 
long in possession. It is true, they are not formally styled 
" Egyptians," but neither were the " kindly tenants " of Kirk- 
Yetholm, nor those other Gypsy proprietors and tenants 
referred to on a previous page. There is no strong reason 
for assuming that the John Faw who was in East Lothian in 
1507 did not figure as the " captain of a gang of Gypsies," 
in the same county, in 1470. 

More fanciful, it may be, but still worthy of remark in 
this connection, is the suggestion that a certain coat of arms 
of the fifteenth century bears reference to this or some other 
Gypsy chief. This design was painted, along with many 
other armorial bearings, in the year 1461, on the wooden 
ceiling of the dining-hall of Nunraw Castle, which is situated 
only a few miles from the castle of Herdmanston, the scene 
of the traditional tale of 1470. It is a fact not without 
significance that the three adders borne on the shield assigned 
to this " King of Egypt " are very closely duplicated in Gypsy 
designs in Hungary at the present day ; in which country, 
also, the serpent is engraved as a crest on the silver buttons 
of Gypsy chiefs. A few of these modern designs and this 
shield of 1401 were brought together in the Journal of the 



28 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDEll THE STEWARTS. 

Gypsy-Lorc Society} and the resemblance between the former 
and the latter was seen to be very striking. Whether this 
resemblance is fortuitous, or whether the shield, the John 
Faw of 1507, and the hero of the tale of 1470 are all in some 
way connected, is of covirse a matter of individual opinion. 

It ought, however, to be mentioned, although I am en- 
deavouring to consider the Gypsies of Scotland only in these 
pages, that those who have studied the history of the Gypsies of 
Europe are familiar with the fact that armorial bearings have 
been assigned to more than one Gypsy chief. Thus," Crusius's 
Annales Sucvici (1594) " — I quote from Mr Groome's 
In Crypsy Tents ^ — " records three emblazoned monuments 

of Gypsy chieftains buried in Christian churches 

The first was reared at Steinbach in 1445, ' to the high-born 
lord. Lord Panuel, Duke in Little Egypt, and Lord of Hirsch- 
horn in the same land ; ' the second at Bautma in 1453, ' to 
the noble Earl Peter of Kleinschild ;' and the third at Pforz- 
heim {read Pfortzen] in 1498, ' to the high-born Lord Johann, 
Earl of Little Egypt, to whose soul God be gracious and 
merciful.' " And a certain Gypsy leader who was at 
Zutphen, in Guelderland, in 1459, was styled the " King of 
Little Egypt." ^ With these examples before one, it is not a 
very daring thing to assume that the arms assigned to the 
" King of Egypt," in a Scottish castle, in 1461, were intended 
to represent those of a Gypsy chief. 

^ A"ol. iii. p. 179. - P. \2i. ^ Dirks' Heidens of Egyptiers, Utrecht, 

1850, p. 42. 



CHAPTEE IV. 

THE first undoubted record referring to Gypsies in Great 
Britain is : — ' 1505, April 22. Item to the Egyptianis 
be the Kingis command, vij lib.' " This statement of Mr 
Crofton's ^ remains uncontroverted by anything that has been 
said in the foregoing pages ; for however great may be the 
probability that the refenuices already made denote the 
presence of Gypsies in Scotland during the fifteenth century, 
or earlier, it cannot be said that these references settle the 
matter beyond all doubt. 

The entry just quoted appears in the Accounts of the Lord 
High Treasurer of Scotland. 

" A few months later, in July 1505," continues Mr Crofton, 
" we find the Scottish king, James IV., writing to the King 
of Denmark to commend Anthony Gagino, a lord of Little 
Egypt, who, with his retinue, had a few months previously 
reached Scotland during a pilgrimage through the Christian 
world, undertaken at the command of the Apostolic See." 
This letter is preserved in the Eoyal Archives of Denmark, 
having still " remains of the seal impressed in red wax, and 
the inscription to King John." The following is an exact 
copy : — 

" lllustrissimo et Potentissimo Priucipi Johanni dei gracia dacie 
Swecie Noruigio Slauorum et gothorum llegi duci slesuiacie 
holstacie stiniiarie et ditmarie Coniiti in oldenborg et dehiienhost, 
Auunculo et Confederato nostro Charissirao, Jacobus eadem gracia 
Kex Scotorum Salutem araorem et successus optatos. Antlionius 
gagino ex parua egipto Comes et cetera comitatus eius gensafflicta 
et miseranda, dum Cristianum orbem apostolico(vt aiunt) iussu suo- 
rum more peregrinantur, Ad liiiiites nostri regni forte aduenerunt, 
Atque in miseriarum et softis sue llefugium nos pro liuinauitate 
orarunt, vt nostros tines sibi Tmpune adire, lies et quam liabeut 
societatcm liberius circumagere, et donee iucoiitinente [.s/c] abuaui- 

^ Gyp. Lore Soc. Jour., i. 7. 



30 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS, 

gent, quiecius consistere liceat. Postulata facile id liominum genus 
iuipetrat, quod miseris et iactatis viris succurrere Regium semper 
duximus. Ita aliquot iam menses bene et probe hie versati, ad te, 
Rex et Auuncule chare, in daciam festinant. Sed occeanum trans- 
missuri nostras litteras exorant, quibus Celsitudinem tuam horum 
cerciorem Reddamus, simul et gentis Calamitatem tue munificencie 
Commendemus, que eo tibi quam nobis notior creditur, quo egiptus 
tuo Regno vicinior et maior horum frequencia tuo diuersatur 
imperio. Rex et Auuncule confederate felix vale. Ex Regia nostra 
Apud Linlithq"' die iulij tercio Anno salutis quinto supra millesi- 
mum et quingentesimum. James Rex." ^ 

As the surname of this " Count of Little Egypt " appears 
differently in the draft of this letter, which may be seen 
among the Eoyal MSS. at the British Museum, and as there 
are a few other shght differences between the draft and the 
letter itself, it may be as well to quote the former also. It 
is as follows : — 

MS. Reg. 13 B, II. 

Danica 25. In gram EgyptiorC Vagotf, 

Illustrissimo, &c. Anthonius gawino ex parua egipto comes, et 
cetera eius coraitatus gens afflicta et miseranda : dii xpianii orbem 
peregrinationis studio aplice sedis (vt refert) Jussu : suorii more 
peregrinans : tines firi Regni dudum aduenerat. atcfe in sortis sue et 
miseriaru hui^ populi refugiu Nos pro humanitate Implorauerat : 
vt firos Limites sibi Impune adire : Res cunctas : et qua habet 
societatem libere circuagere liceret. Impetrat facile : que postulat 
miseroru hominu dura fortuna. Ita aliquot meses bene et catholice 
(sic accei^n) hie versatus : ad te Rex et Auucule In Dacia transitum 
parat. Sed occeanum transmissurus nras Lras exorauit, quibus 
Celsitudine tua horu cerciore Redderem"^, simul et calamitatem eius 
gentis Regie tue munificencie comendarem*^ . Ceteru errabunde 
egipti fata moresc^ et genus, eo tibi a" nobis credim"^ notiora : quo 
egiptus tuo Regno vicinior : et maior timoi hominu frequencia tuo 
Diuersatur Imperio, Illustrissime, &c. 

Here, then, we have Gypsies distinctly visible in Scotland 
in the year 1505, Whether the band of " Anthonius Gagino " 
was composed of those " Egyptians " to whom the King had 
paid seven pounds in the previous April, is not certain. But 
the favour shown to Gypsies by James IV. contrasts remark- 
ably with the attitude of his grandfather, James II., towards the 

^ I have to thank Mr A. D. Jorgensen, the Royal Danish Archivist, Copen- 
hagen, for his courteous gift of the printed section of the Archives containing 
the above copy letter. 



JAMES IV. AND THE GYPSIES. 31 

" Moors" of Galloway stoiy. In this, as in all that relates 
to the Gypsies of that period, there is much room for con- 
jecture. 

One detail of the letter which is difficult to explain satis- 
factorily is the reference to " Egypt " as nearer Denmark 
than Scotland. This has been assumed to denote mere geo- 
graphical ignorance ; and one writer (quoted by Dyrlund in 
his Taterc ocj Natmandsfolk, Christiania, 1872, p. 290) suggests 
that " Egyptians " were the same as " Lapp nomads," in the 
estimation of " the simple Scotch king," On the other hand, it 
is to be remembered that James was not only an accomplished 
man of the world, but that he was also the son of a Danish 
princess, and in both aspects likely to know almost as much 
upon this point as the King of Denmark. Moreover, it is 
pretty evident that he was not the first of his race who had 
come in contact with Gypsies. We cannot say positively 
that any of the " Moors," or " sorners," against whom his 
grandfather legislated so determinedly were really Gypsies. 
But it is to be noted that that monarch issued his edict 
against " overliers and masterful beggars " in 1449, the year 
of his marriage with Mary of Guelderland. By this marriage 
(which is stated by a biographer to have much strengthened 
his character, and to have made him still more determined 
to bring his kingdom to order, as such edicts would tend to 
do), James XL must have been made well aware of the exist- 
ence of Gypsies, had he known nothing of them previously. 
For the " Heidens " of Little Egypt were then well known 
in Guelderland.^ According to some writers, the " Heidens " 
then in Guelderland were of two kinds, the " Pagans " of 
Prussia and Livonia, and the Gypsies proper. The reasons 
for this distinction do not seem established. But it seems 
clear that the Baltic provinces had Gypsy populations at an 
early period;^ certainly at the date of James the Fourth's 
letter. And it is reasonable to assume that this was the 
country he had in view. Nevertheless, it cannot be said 
that this explanation will account for the application of the 
term " Egypt " to the country denoted. 

After the date of James the Fourth's letter to his royal 

1 See Dirks' Heidens of Egyptiers, Utreclit, 1850, pp. 39-12. " Sec Gyp.- 
Lore Soc. Jour,, ii. 137, note. 



82 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

uncle of Denmark, the next mention of Gypsies in Scotland 
— so far as is known to the present writer — occurs in the 
Council Eegister of the burgh of Aberdeen, in the year 1527. 
The following is the entry as it appears in the Aberdeen 
record : ^ — 

Sth May 1527. 

The said clay, it was sufEcientlie provin afor the baillies and a 
pairt of counsall, i^resent for the tyme, be famouss diuerss witnes, 
that the EgiiDtiens tuk out of Thomas Watsouns houss tua siluer 
spounis, liand in the locker of ane schryne, quliilkis contenit ilk 
ane a wnce of siluer, quhairfor thai chargit Eken Jaks,- maister of 
the said Egiptiens, to cleliuer the said siDOvniss agane, or thane 
thair awaill, within xxiiii houris, becauss he ansuerit and come 
guid for his cumpany in jugement ; and as to the money the said 
Thomas allagit tane away be thame, the bailzeis continewit [i.e., 
postponed consideration of] the same, quhilk thai got na witnes to 
preif mair cleirlie. And atoure, John [sic] Watsoun, and his mother 
and serwand, was maid quit of all strublance of the said Egiptiens, 
and that was geven for dovin [p^ead dovm, i.e., " doom "]. 

From this extract it will be seen that a certain company 
of Gypsies, under a different leader from that named in 
James the Fourth's letter in 1505, was established at Aber- 
deen in the spring of 1527. How long these Gypsies had 
been in that neighbourhood does not appear.'^ One notable 
feature of the entry is that it quite supports the popular 
belief that " Gypsy " and " thief " were once synonymous 
terms. It must also be noted, however, that the two refer- 
ences of 1505, already quoted, do not present them to us in 
this unpleasant light. 

But when, in the October of 1539, they again come into 
prominence in the same neighbourhood, it is, unfortunately 
for their reputation, in exactly the same reprehensilde 
character. It is true that the two Gypsies specially accused 
of the theft were unanimously acquitted by the jury, and 
indeed turned the tables upon their accuser by claiming 
from him the expenses due by them for the trial. Never- 

1 Extracts from the Council Register of tlie Burgh of Aberdeen, 1398-1570, 
p. 117, Aberdeen, printed for the Spaldnig Club, 1844. ^ "Jacks" (which, 
like its variant "Jack," is derived from "Jacques," and is an old surname 
in Scotland) was an Aberdeen name at that period. ^ In Kennedy's Annals 
of Aberdeen (London, 1818, vol. i. p. 74, note), it is stated that "the west 
skirts of the town " had been the immemorial residence of " tinkers and 
sorners." 



EARL GEORGE OF EGYPT. 33 

theless, the incident closely resembles that above quoted, 
where the guilt of the Gypsies was " sufficiently proved." 
The circumstances attending the alleged theft of 1539 are 
thus chronicled : ^ — 

22nd Januart/ 1540. 

The said day, in the actioun and caus movit be Andro Chalmer, 
in Westar Fintra, upon Barbara Dya Baptista and Helen Andrea,^ 
thair complices, to the number of ten personis, frends and servands 
to Erie George, callit of Egipt, makand mentioun that in the 
monyth of October last bypast, come to his houses in Wester Fintra, 
and thair thiftiusly staw and tuik fra hym out of his kyst, in his 
chalmer, the sowm of twenty-four marks money of the realme, and 
will mak him na restitution thairof wythout thai be compellit. 

Nomina Assise. Patrik Forbes, Duncane Mar, Walter Cullan, 
Maister John Fress, Gilbert Fress, Walter Hay, Androw Crawfurd 
younger, Androw Durtty, Alexr. Nicholsone, Alexr. Forbes, David 
Menzies, Johne Eattre, Henry Collisone, Thomas Hay, William 
Carnis. 

The sayd day, Barbara Baptista and Helen Andree, Egiptians, 
war accusit in jugment be the prowest for the wrangous waytaking 
of xxiiij marks money of Scotland fra Androw Chalmer in Wester 
Fyntra, out of his kyst, quhilk thai deny it be George Faw, thair 
capitane and forsi^eikar [i.e., advocate or siDokesman], and Maister 
Thomas Annand, thair procuratour. And thairefter, with consent 
of bayth the said partiis, the said action was put to the decisione 
and knawlege of the assyss aboun wrytine, quhilk was chosin and 
sworne in jugment, in presens of partiis, and admittit be thaim 
fui'tht of court remowit, and at lyntht awysit wytht the deposi- 
tionis of the wytnes producit be the said Androw Chalmer, enterit 
in court, fand and deliuerit, all in ane voce, that the said Androw 
Chalmer hed failit in his preyf twyching waytaking of the forsaid 
money, and maid the said Barbara and Helene, Egiptians forsaid, 
quyt of the clame of the same claimit at thaim be the said Androw, 
and dischargit thaim thairof be the haill assyss forsaid. And the 
said Egiptianis protestit for thair expensis againe the said Androw 
Chalmer, and desyrit caution of the said Androw to answer at 
thair instans, as law will, quhilk fand John Chalmer cautioner, to 
Alexander Hay, officiar. 

The said day, Alexander Chalmer, procurator for the said Androw 
Chalmer, protestit for tyme and place to persew the laif of tJie 
Egiptianis for the said money, and tuk not that the said Barbara 
and Helene allanarly ar made quyt of the said claim, as he allegit. 

The said day, Maister Thomas Annand, procuratour for the 

1 Op. cil., p. 167, 168. - " Andree " appears as a local surname (o;a cit., pp, 
374, &c.) as early as 1398. The name Baptista seems quite foreign to Scot- 
land, The "Dya" in this person's name may be simply the Gypsy ciT/a, 
(" mother "), used to distinguish her from another Barbara Jiaptista. 

C 



34 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Egiptianis, and George Faw, tliair capitaine, requirit Androw 
Chalmer in jugment to nay me or nott samony of thair company as 
he was plenteus on for the thiftouss waytaking of his money, 
quhilk accepit allanarlie at that tyme bot twa, that is to say, 
Barbara Dya Baptista and Helen Andree ; and the forsaid pro- 
curatour protestit that he said hef na place in tyme cuming to 
persew nane of the company, becaus thai war all present in jug- 
ment. 

Six weeks later this ease again came before the notice of 
the Council, as the following brief entry testifies : ^- — 

Ath March 1540. 
The said day, the Egiptianis quhilks wer maid quytt obefor of 
Androw Chalmeris clame maid [? George and] Joh Faw thar 
capitanis procurators for thaime, to persew thair expensiss, and 
the bailzie geff him [? them] i^ower to follow the same, on the 
queilks they tuk nott. 

To remark in detail upon the many interesting features 
of this account is impossible in these pages, where the 
various citations themselves, rather than the ideas they suggest, 
ought chiefly to engage our attention. It may be noted, 
however, that either this company of Gypsies was different 
from that of 1527, or else the then chief had given place to 
a certain George Faw, with whom his brother John Faw^ 
seems to have been associated in command. The surname 
" Faw " has been so identified with the Gypsies of Scotland, 
and also of the North of England ; that it is worth noting 
that this entry gives us the year 1539 as the date of the 
earliest definite mention of a Gypsy bearing that surname. 
It is true that a " John Faw " is spoken of as a Gypsy chief 
of the year 1470, as previously noticed ; but that reference 
was merely traditional, without any historical proof of its 
correctness. And although, as we have seen, " Faw " is an 
old surname in Scotland, this is the earliest known instance 
in which the bearer of it is clearly recognisable as a Gypsy. 
The remarkable alternations of leniency and severity 
formerly exhibited towards Gypsies by the Scottish 
authorities are well exemplified in these Aberdeen notices of 
1540. That Gypsies were then and there regarded as thieves 
by " habit and repute " is apparent from the tenor of the 
following entry : ^ — - 

^ 0}\ cit., p. 169. - As will be seen from the next two extracts. ^ Op. cit., 
pp. 168, 169. 



ABERDEEN AND THE PAWS IX 1540. 35 

21st Fehr7iari/ 1540. 
The bailzeis charged George Faw, Egiptian, and his brother, to 
remoif thameself, their cumpany, and gudis of this toun, betuix 
this and )Sonday nixt cummis, under all pane and charge that aftir 
ma follow ; and in the myntirae, that nane of thair cumpany cum 
in ony houss or cloiss in this toun, bot gif thai be sent about, and 
gif ony dois quhat beis away in the same houss, that the said 
George and his brother sal refound sayme." 

In view of this municipal edict one may reasonably doubt 
whether the Gypsies were not as responsible for the theft 
committed in 1539 as they were proved to be for that of 
1527. There is ample evidence, at subsequent dates, that 
the offences and crimes of Gypsies were often winked at by 
the officers of justice ; and in spite of the fact that their 
general manner of living was a constant infringement of 
existing laws, and that several of their leaders were at 
various times condemned to death and to banishment for 
murder, these special individuals are somehow found living 
on in their old way for many years afterwards, and the 
Gypsies as a class are visible in Scotland, century after 
century, calmly ignoring the successive waves of legislation 
directed against them. As already pointed out, this remark- 
able fact is illustrated in the Aberdeen of 1540. The 
reputation of this George and John Faw and their company 
was so notorious that the civic authorities formally pro- 
nounced a decree of banishment against them on the 21st 
of February. And yet we see from one of the above 
extracts that on the 4th of March the very same Gypsies 
were empowered by the same authorities to continue their 
suit against their accuser of the previous January. 

One other incident of their stay in Aberdeen is revealed 
to us by the Council Register. Although it seems clear 
that the conduct of the Gypsies on this occasion was quite 
excusable (at a period when " blood-drawing " was an affair 
of no great moment), yet it is evident that the Gypsies were 
treated with all justice, if not with leniency. The entry is 
as follows: — 

28th January 1540. 

The said day, George Faw and Johnne Faw, Egiptianis, ware 
convict be the sworne assys aboune wrytine for the blud drawing 
of Sande [Sandie, or Alexander] Barrowne, and the said IJarrowne 
convict for the strublens of tliaim and the prouocatioune fundiu in 



36 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

hym ; quharfor thai and ilk ane of thaim war in amerciament of 
court, to forbeir in tym cumming, and amend as law will, and 
ordanit the saids Egiptianis to pay the harbour ^ for the leyching 
of the said Barrowne, and to gyf him a crowne of the sone [sun] ^ 
for the amends of the said blud within viii days. 

It is to be noted that the decree banishing George and 
John Faw and their company from Aberdeen in February 
1540 forms the earliest known instance in Scotland of legis- 
lation directed sjKcially against Gypsies. There were un- 
doubtedly laws in force, as early as the year 1424, which 
aimed at the repression of people living the kind of life 
followed by the Gypsies. But these laws make no mention 
of " Gypsies " or " Egyptians." Whatever may be the ex- 
planation, the Gypsies of the sixteenth century appear as the 
prot^g^s of the Scottish monarchs, and not as men living under 
the ban of the law, from the time they are first mentioned 
in 1505 throughout three successive reigns (except for a 
brief interval, to be presently noticed). This is distinctly 
apparent ' with regard to the very John Faw whom the 
Aberdeen bailies prohibited from living in their town. 
Strange as it may appear, the autliorities of Aberdeen were 
thus acting in direct opposition to the expressed wishes of 
the reigning monarch. 

This sovereign, James V, of Scotland, was the friend of the 
Gypsies in a much greater degree than his father (whose 
letter of commendation to the King of Denmark has already 
been quoted). That, as tradition states, he sometimes 
associated with them in the course of those solitary roving 
expeditions for which he was noted, seems quite probable. 
It is true that if his Gypsy experiences were all of the same 
disagreeable nature as that quoted by Mr Simson in his 
History (pp. 104-106),^ they would not tend to make him 

1 At that period barbers practised surgery. ^ With regard to this coin, Mr 
Adam B. Richardson, Cm-ator of Coins to the Society of Antiquaries of Scot- 
huid, has been good enough to supply nie with the information that the French 
ecu d'or is indicated by these early references; and he adds: — "The only 
similar piece we have in the Scottish series is the uuitjue gold crown of Mary, 
dated 1561, which has the sun for mint mark." Among certain spoil alleged 
to have been taken from the house of Ancrum, Roxburghshire, in the year 
1573, are " twentie scoir of crounis of the sone, price of the pece xxxvi. s." 
{Register of the Prinj Council of Seotlaml, Edinburgh, 1878, p. 270). ^ This 
incident, which is also associated with King John of England, is referred to 
in the Gyio.-Loro Soc. Jour., vol. i. pp. 244, 245. 



A GYPSY SCHISM. " 37 

view those people with a friendly eye. But a proof of the 
King's friendship, which is of a much more reliable nature 
than any tradition, is afforded by the following writ of the 
Privy Council of Scotland, signed by the King at his palace 
of Falkland just four days before the bailies of Aberdeen had 
decreed the expulsion of this same John Faw from their 
town.^ It is in these terms : — 

Re gist. Secreti Sigilli, vol. xiv.fol. 59. 

James be the grace of God King of Scottis, To oure Shireffis of 
Edinburgh principall and within the constabularie of Hadingtoun, 
Berwik, Roxburgh, Selkirk, Perth, Forfar, Fife, Clakmannane, 
Kinross, Kincardin, Abirdene, Banf, Elgin and Fores, Name, 
Inverness, Linlithqow, Peblis, Striviling, Lanark, Pienfrew, Dun- 
bertane and Drumfreis, Bute and Wigtoun, Stewartis of Annander- 
dale, Kirkcudbrycht, Menteith and Stratherne, Bailies of Kile, 
Carrik, and Cunynghame, and thaire Deputis, Provestis, Aldermen, 
and Baillies of oure Burrowis and Cieteis of Edinburgh, Hadingtoun, 
Lawder, Jedburgh, Selkirk, Peblis, Perth, Forfar, Cowper, Sauctan- 
drois, Kincardin, Abirdene, Banf, Elgin and Fores, Name, Inver- 
ness, Linlithqow, Striuiling, Lanark, Glasqow, Butherglen, Renfrew, 
Dunbertane, and Drumfreis, Wigtoun, Irwyn, Kirkcudbrycht, 
Quhitterne, and to all utheris ShirefEs, Stewartis, Provestis, 
Auldermen, and Baillies within oure realme, — Greting : fforsamekill 
as it is humblie menit and schewin to us be oure louit Johnne Faw, 
lord and erle of Litill Egipt, That quhair he obtenit oure Lettres 
under oure Grete Seile direct to zow all and sundry oure saidis 
Shireffis, Stewartis, Baillies, Prouestis, Aldermen, and Baillies of 
burrois, and to all and sindry utheris havand autoritie within oure 
realme to assist to him in executioun of justice uidouu his cumpany 
and folkis conforme to the lawis of Egipt, and in punissing of all 
thame that rebellis aganis him : Neuertheles as we are iuformyt 
Sebastiane Lalow, Egiptiane, ane of the"said Johnnis cumpany with 
his complices and parttakaris undir writtin, that is to say, Anteane 
Donea, Satona Fingo, Nona Finco, Phillip Hatseyggow, Towla 
Bailzow, Grasta Neyn, Geleyr Bailzow, Bernard Beige, Demer 
Matskalla, Not-Faw Lawlowr, Martyn Femine rebellis and consi^iris 
aganis the said Johnne Faw, and hes removit thame alluterly out 
of his cumpany, and takin fra him diuerss sovmes of money, jewellis, 
claithis, and utheris gudis to the quantite of ane grete sovme of 
money, and on na wys will jias hame with him, Howljeit he hes 
biddin and remanit of lang tyme ui^oun thame, and is Inuuling and 

' Perhaps the explanation of the fact that, as stated on a previous page, 
those Faws are seen living in Aberdeen twelve days after tlie date of tlie 
municipal edict, may be found in tlie hypothesis that the latter had been 
practically cancelled by the Privy Council decree (which may not have 
reached Aberdeen until after 21. st February). 



38 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UXDER THE STEWARTS. 

oblist to bring hame with him all thame of his cumpany that ar on 
live, and ane testimoniale of thame that are deid. And als the said 
Johnne lies the said Sebastianis obligatioun maid in Dunfermling 
befor our maister houssald that he and his cumpany suld remane 
with him and on na wys depart fra him, as the samyn beris : In 
contrar the tennour of the quliilk the said Sebastiane be sinister 
and wrang informatioun, fals relatioun and circumventioun of us, 
hes purchest our writingis dischai'geing him and the remanent of 
the persones abone writtin his complices and parttakaris of the 
said Johnnis cumpany and with his gudis takin be thame fra him 
caussis certane oure liegis assist to thame and thair opinionis and to 
fortify and tak thair part aganis the said Johnne thair lord and 
maister, sua that he on na wys can apprehend nor get thame to 
haue thame hame agane within thaire awin cuntre, eftir the tennour 
of his said Band, to his hevy dampnage and skaith and in grete 
perrell of tynsall of his heretage, and expres aganis justice : Owre 
will is heirfor, and we charge zow straitlie, and commandis that 
incontynent thir our Lettres sene ye and ilk ane of yow within the 
boundis of your office, command and charge all our liegis that nane 
of thame tak upoun hand to resett, assist, fortify, supple, manteine, 
defend, or tak part with the said Sebastiane and his complices 
abone writtin for na buddis nor uthir way aganis the said Johne 
Faw, thair Lord and maister, Bot that thai and ye inlikwis tak and 
lay handis upoun thame quhareuir thai may be api^rehendit, and 
bring thame to him to be punist for thair demeritis conforme to 
his lawis, and help and fortify him to punis and do justice ujjoun 
thame for thair trespassis, and to that effect len to him zoure 
presonis, stokis, fetteris, and all uthir thingis necessar thairto as 
ye and ilk ane of yow, and all utheris oure liegis will answer to us 
thairupoun and under all hieast pane and charge that eftir may 
follow swa that the said Johne haue na caus of complaynt heir- 
upoun in tyme cuming nor to resort agane to us to that effect : 
Nochtwithstanding ony oure writingis sinisterly purchest, or to be 
purchest be the said Sebastiane in the contrar ; And als charge all 
oure liegis that nane of thame molest, vex, inquiet, or truble the 
said Johnne Faw and his cumpany in doing of thair lefuU besynes 
or uthir wayis within oure realme, and in thair jDassing, remanyng, 
or away ganging furth of the samyn under the pane abone writtin : 
And sicklike that ye command and charge all skipparis, maisteris, 
and marinaris within oure reahxie at all portis and havjmnis quhair 
the said Johnne and his cumjDany salhappin to resort and cum to 
resave him and thame thairin upoun thair expenssis for furing of 
thame furth of oure realme to the partis bezond sey as thai and ilk 
ane of thame sicklike will answer to us thairupoun and undir the 
pane forsaid. Subscrivit with oure hand and under oure Priuie 
Seile at Falkland the seventene day of Februar, and of oure reign e 
the xx^i zeir. Subscriptam per Piegem. 

Although this document is too important not to be given 



GYPSY THIEVES AT HADDINGTON IN 1540. 39 

here in cxtcnso, it has long been known to all who have paid 
attention to the history of the Gypsies, and our present space 
need not be occupied in the consideration of its details. It 
is enough to notice that it affords ample testimony to the 
fact that at that period the Gypsies stood high in the favour 
of the King of Scotland.-^ And that this was no new thing 
has already been seen from the fact that in 1530, when he 
was only eighteen years old, " the Egyptians that danced 
before the King in Holyrood house " received from him, 
through the Lord High Treasurer, a sum of forty shillings. 
The fact that his father, James IV., had, twenty-five years 
earlier, ordered a sum of seven pounds to be paid " to the 
Egyptians," argues that they had enjoyed the royal favour 
for a long period. 

Yet it is noteworthy that Aberdeen is not the only place 
which shows us the Gypsies in the character of thieves and 
housebreakers in 1539 and 1540. This is seen from the 
following brief entry in the Eecords of the town of Hadding- 
ton : — " 2nd March 1540. The Baillies after tryal fine a 
company of Egiptians for coming into a hovise and stealing 
— Two appear for all the laif [i.e., the remainder] of the 
compan}'— Ordain the Egyptians to pay 19s. 5d. in 15 days." ^ 
A comparison of the dates makes it evident that these could 
not have been the Gypsies who figured in the Aberdeen 
Burgh Court in January, February, and March 1540. It is 
therefore interesting to notice that in each case the Gypsies 
were not treated as individual offenders, but were recognised 
as a corporate body, witli the right to delegate its defence to 
one or two of its memljers, and abiding by the decision pro- 
nounced upon them for the whole " company." 

^ With reference to the surnames of the Gypsies mentioned in this -writ. 
It may be observed that " Faw " and " Bailzow "(a variant of Balliol, 
Baillie, &c.) are the only ones of distinctly Scottish association ; and in this 
incident we seem to have, as Simson remarks {History, pp. 236, 237), an early 
example of the long-continued rivalry between the Faws and the Baillies. 
" JIatskalla," if it ought to be " Macskalla," as some read it, -would be a 
Celtic name; and "Femine" may be a misspelling of "Fleming." " Law- 
lowr " or " Lawlor " is an old English name ; and the "Not Faw " prefixed 
to this surname in one instance seems to be rightly interpreted by Mr 
Groome as being nothing else than a correction, made by the Gypsy to the 
clerk who was writing down his name: — "Not Faw, Lawlor." All the 
other names appear to be foreign. ^ Quoted from Proc. of Soc. of Antiquaries 
of Scotland, vol. ii. yi. 400. 



40 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

The next document in point of date is well known to 
Gypsiologists, and was first jjiinted by Pitcairn in his Criminal 
Trials (Edinburgh, 1833). One puzzling feature of it is 
that the son of John Fall appears as John Wann or Wan. 
" Fall " is used interchangeably with " Faw " to denote the 
same Gypsy family.^ But this is the only instance of Wann 
(also an old Scotch surname) " being applied to a Gypsy. 
The following is the entry in the Privy Seal Eegister : — 

Reciistruni Secreti Si{iilli, vol. xiii. fol. 83. 

Preceptum litere Johannis Wanne filii et heredis quondam 
Johannis Fall minoris Egipti comitis ac domini et niagistri Egiptio- 
rum infra regnum Scotie existentium Dando sibi sibi ijotestatem 
predictos Egiptios ad sibi obediendum et parendum plectere et 
punire, &c. Apud Sanctiandreani xxvi die mensis Maij Anno 
Domini j™v'=xl°. x^ \in margin] per signaturam. 

It is curious that the " son and heir " of John Faw (or 
Fall) should be known as John Wann. And even more inex- 
plicable seems the fact that whereas John Faw was alive in 
March 1540, and, according to the above " precept," had been 
succeeded by his son in the following May, yet a document 
(to be cited) of the year 1553 refers to the same John Faw 
as though he were then still alive. 

The next reference has also been printed by Pitcairn. It 
is an Act of the Lords of Council and Session ; and although 
executed only one year after the very favourable order of the 
Privy Council, c[uoted above, it shows a complete reversal of 
the Gypsies' position. One thing it makes evident is that, 
not only at Aberdeen, but all over Scotland, the Gypsies had 
the reputation of being notorious thieves. This is the reason 
given for the King's withdrawal of his former privileges. He, 
however, must have been well aware of this long before 1541 ; 
but the Act bears strong evidence that, although it was 
sanctioned by the King, he had really allowed himself to be 
overruled by his councillors. The Act is as follows : — 

^ Assuming " Fall " to be the older fonn, its change into " Faw " will be 
at once understood by those acquainted with the Scotch usage in words 
ending in "11 " preceded bj' a, o, or u. - It seems to have been a common 
surname in Fife and the Lothians in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 
In 1436 a John Wan appeared as witness to an East Lothian charter. — Eegister 
of the Great Seed of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1882. 



"LETTERS FOR EXPELLIXG OF EGYPTIANS," 1541. 41 

Acta Dominortim Concilii et Sessioiiis, vol. xv. fol. 155. 

AjDucl Striveling, sexto Junii, anno Domini, j'"v'"x]io. 

Sederunt archieiDiscopus Glasguensis cancellarius, Willelmus 
ejaiscopus Aberclonensis, Willelmus episcopus Durablanensis, Alex- 
ander abbas Cambuskynneth, ^Nlalcolmus Dominus Flemyng, Hugo 
Dominus Somervile, ]\Iagister Henricus Sinclair, rector de Glasgw, 
Magister Jacobus Foulis clericus registri,Magister Thomas Ballenden 
clericus Justiciarie, et ^Magister Henricus Balnavis. 

The quhilk day anentis the complaintis gevin in be Jhone Faw 
and his brether and Sebastiane Lowlaw, Egiptianis, to the Kingis 
grace ilkane plenyeand ujDon uther of divers faltis and injuris, and 
that it is aggreit amang thame to pas hame and to have the samyn 
decydit before the duke of Egipt, the Lordis of counsale being avisit 
with the pointis of saidis complaintis and understanding pertitlie 
the gret thiftis and scathis done be the saidis Egiptianis upon our 
soverane lordis leigis quhairever thai cum or resortis, Ordanis letres 
to be'direct to the provestis bailies of Edinburgh, Sanct Jhonstoun, 
Dundee, Monros, Aberdene, Sanct Androis, Elgin, Fores, and Inver- 
nes, and to the shirefis of Edinburgh, Fif, Perth, Forfair, Kincardin, 
Aberdene, Elgyn and Fores, Banf, Crummarty, Invernes, and all 
utheris shirefis, stewartis, jDrovestis, and bailies quhair it happinnis 
the saidis Egiptianis to resort, to command and charge thame be 
oppin proclamatioun at the mercat croces of the held burgh of the 
shirefdomes to depart furth of this realme with thair witis, barnis, 
and cumpaneis, within xxx day efter thai be chargit thaii'to, under 
the pane of deid, nochtwithstanding ony utheris letres or privelegis 
grantit to thame be the Kingis grace. Becaus his grace, with avis 
of the lordis, lies dischargit the samyn for the causis forsaidis, with 
certiticatioun and thai be fundin in this realme, the saidis xxx dayis 
being past, thai salbe tane and put to deid.^ 

Stringent though this measure was, it did not really 
banish the Gypsies for ever from Scotland, as subsequent 
history shows. But it appears to have driven the Faws 
temporarily across the Border into England ; for, in the year 
1549, " Baptist Fawe, Amy Fa we, and George Faw^e, 
Egiptians," are discernible in the county of Durham." But 

* The Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland show payments, on 
23rd June 1541, to three King's messengers for "passing" from StirUng to 
"the Northland," "the Westland," and the districts of Mer.sc, Teviotdale, 
and tlie Lothians, with these " Letteris to the Sclicreffis and Burro wis for 
Expelling of Egiptianis."— (Quoted by Pitcairn, in his Criminal Trials, vol. i. 
part i, p. 310*.) ^ Gyp. -Lore Soc. Jour., vol. i. p. 12. In this reference of 
Mr Crofton's, the Faws are accused of having counterfeited the Great Seal of 
Englaml, and of having in their possession " a writing with a great Seal much 
like to the King's ^Majesty's Great Seal." Whether this document was really 



42 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

if any great number of Gypsies did leave Scotland, as a result 
of the decree of 1541, their absence was not one of long dura- 
tion, nor did they remain under a cloud for any great length 
of time. For, in 1553, " John Faw, Lord and Earl of Little 
Egypt," appears once more in the full sunshine of royal 
favour; and, as of yore, not only countenanced by the Govern- 
ment, but receiving through it the support of the constituted 
authoiities in dealing with Sebastian Lawlow (or Lawlor) 
and the other " rebels." There is no apparent reason for the 
favourable change in the attitude of the Scottish Govern- 
ment towards the Gypsies. Their protector, James the Fifth, 
had died in 1542, and the country was now under a Eegeney, 
the young Queen being still in France, — although the writ 
about to be cited luns in her name. As this document has 
not hitherto been quoted at length, it may be as well to re- 
produce it here without abridgment (although it is to some 
extent a repetition of the similar document of 154U) : — 

Regist. Secreti Sigilli, vol. xxv. fol. 62. 

Marie, be the grace of God Quene of Scottis, to cure Shireffis of 
Edinburgli principal and within the constabularie of Hadingtoun, 
Bervik, Roxburgh, Selkirk, Perth, Forfar, Fife, Clackmannane, 
Kinross, Kincardin, Abirdene, Banff, Elgin and Fores, Nairne, 
Inverness, Lynlithqw, Peblis, Striuiling, Lanark, Renfrew, Dum- 
bertane, Air, Dumfreis, But and Wigtoun, Stewartis of Annan der- 
daill, Kirkcudbricht, Menteith and Stratherne, Baillies of Kile, 
Carrik, and Cunynghame, and thair Deputis ; Prouestis, Aldermen 
and Baillies, of oure Burrowis and Ceteis of Edinburgh, Hadingtoun, 
Laudar, Jedburgh, Selkirk, Peblis, Perth, Forfair, Cowpar, Sanct- 
androis, Kincardin, Abirdene, Banff, Elgin and Fores, Name, 
Invernes, Lynlithqw, Striuiling, Lanark, Glasgow, Rutherglen, 
Renfrew, Dunibertane, Air, Dumfreis, Wigtoun, Irwyne, Kirkcud- 
bricht, Quhitterne ; and to all utheris Shireffis, Stewartis, Prouestis, 
Aldermen, and Baillies within oure realme, Greting : fforsamekill 
as it is humblie menit and schewin to us and oure derrest cousing 
and tutour, James, Duke of Cliettellarault, erle of Arrane, lord 
Hammiltoun, protectour and governour of oure realme, be oure 
lovit Johne Faw, lord and erle of Litill Egept, that quhair he obtenit 
umquhyle oure derrest faderis letres of gude mynd, quham God 

a forgery or not, tlie Faws had certainly obtained letters under the Great Seal 
of Scotland, about ten years earlier, as the King of Scotland himself testifies. 
It may be added that the person whose accusation led to the apprehension of 
those Faws was a certain " John Roland, one of that sort of people calling 

themselves Egyptians." 



PRIVY COUNCIL WRIT OF 1553. 43 

assolze, under his grete seill direct to you all and sindry oure saidis 
shireffis, stewartis, baillies, provestis, baillies, and aldermen of oure 
burrowis, and to all and sindry uthiris havand auctorite within 
oure realme, to assist to him in executioun of justice upoun his 
cumpany and folkis conforme to the lawis of Egipt, and in punissing 
of all thame that rebellis agane him. ISTevirtheles as we ar informit, 
Sebastiane Lalow, Egiptiane, ane of the said .Johneis cumpany, 
with his complices parttakaris undir writtin, that is to say, Anteane 
Donea, SatonaFingo,Nona Finco, Phillip Hatseygow, TowlaBailyou, 
Grasta Neyn, Gelyer Bailyow, Bernard Beige, Deraeo Matskalla, 
Notfaw Lawlour, Martyne Femine, rebellis and conspiris aganis 
the said Johne Faw, and hes removit thame alluterlie out of his 
cumpany, and on na wys will pas hame with him howbeit he hes 
biddin and remanit of langtyme upoun thame, and is bund and 
oblist to bring hame with him all thame of his cumpany that 
ar on lyve and ane testimoniall of (thame that ar deid. And als 
the said Johne hes the said Sebastyanis obligatioun that he 
and his cumpany suld remane with him and on na wys depart 
fra him as the samin beris. In contrair the tennour of the quhilk 
the said Sebastiane and his complices forsaidis will nocht re- 
mane with the said Johne thar lord and maister, bot rebellis 
aganis him sua that he na wys can apprehend nor get thame to 
have thame hame agane within thair awin cuntre, eftir the tennour 
of the said band, to his dampnage and skaith and in grete perrell 
in tynsall of his heretage and expres aganis justice. Oure will is 
heirfor, and we charge you straitly and commandis that incontinent 
thir oure lettres sene ye and ilkane of you within the boundis of 
youre offices, command our leigis that nane of thame tak upoun 
hand to resett and assyn, fortyfe, suppley, and manteine, defend 
or tak part with the said Sebastyane and his complices for na buddis 
nor uthirway aganis the said Johne Faw thair lord and maister, bot 
that thai and ye in likwys tak and lay handis on thame quhairevir 
thai may be apprehendit and bring thame to him to be punist for 
thair demeritis conforme to his lawis, and help and fortyfe him to 
punis and do justice upon thame for thair trespas, and to that effect 
len to him your presonis, stokkis, fettaris, and all uthir necessaris 
thingis thairto as ye and ilkane of you and all utheris oure liegis 
will answer to us thairupoun undir all hiest pane and charge that 
eftir may follow sua that the said Johne have na caus of complaint 
heirupoun in tymes cuming nor to refer agane to us to that effect 
nochtwithstanding ony uthir oure writtingis senisterlie purchest or 
to be purchest be the said Sebastyane in the contrair. And als 
chargis all oure liegis that nane of thame molest, vex, inquiet, or 
trouble the said Johne Faw and his cumpany in doing of thair 
lefull besynesor utherwyss within oure realme, and in thare passing 
remanying or awayganging furth of the samyn in maner abone 
writtin. And siclike that ye command and charge all skipparis, 
maisteris, and marynaris of all schippis within our realme at all 
portis and havingis quliair the said .Johne and his cumpany sal- 



44 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

hai^pen to resort for faring of thame furth of oure realme to the 
partis beyond seyis as thai and ilkane of thame siclike will answer 
to us thairui^oun under the pane forsaid. Subscrivit be oure said 
tutour and Governour and gevin under our privie seili, at Hamil- 
toun the xxv of Aprile the yeir of God j'^v*^ and fyfty thre yeris. 
Subscriptam per Dominum Gubernatorem. 

Equally favourable to the Gypsies — or to their " Faw " 
section — are the following " Kespites," granted under the 
Privy Seal.^ It will be seen that the " slaughter " referred 
to had taken place in the month preceding the date of the 
document just quoted. And the reason for the issue of the 
second " Eespite," granted a year after the first, evidently 
was that only a small portion of those engaged in the 
" slaughter " had been named in the first act of remission, 
and the remainder were consequently still liable to be prose- 
cuted for the deed. The two writs which thus protected 
the whole of the offenders are these : — 

Registrum Secreti Sigilli, vol. xxvii. fol. 3. 

Ane Eespitt maid to Andro Faw, capitane of the Egiptianis, 
George Faw, Robert Faw, and Anthony Faw, his sonis, far \i-ead for] 
art and part of the slauchter of umquhile Niniane Smaill, servand 
to John Bard, smyth, connnittit and done in the moneth of Merche 
the zeir of God j™v'= liij yei'is upoun suddantie, and for all actioun 
and cryme that may follow therupoun, and for the space of xix yeris 
to indure, &c. At Linlithqw the xxiij day of Merche the yeir of 
God j^v*^ liii yeris. Per signaturam. 

Vol. xxvii. fol. 36. 

Ane respitt maid to Johnne Faw, Egiptiane, Andro George, 
Nichoalz George, Sebastiane Colyne, George Colyne, Julie Colyne, 
Johnne Colyne, James Hair, Johnne Broun, and George Broun, 
Egiptianis, now being within this realme, for arte and parte of the 
slauchter of umquhile Niniane Small, committit within the toun of 
Lyntoun in the moneth of Marche last bipast. And for all actioun 
and cryme that may follow thairupoun or be imputt to the saidis 
personis Egiptianis or ony of thame thairthrow. And that the said 
respitt for the space of nyntene yeiris but ony revocatioun to 
endure. At Linlithqw the viii day of Aprill the yeir of God j™v<= 
liiij yeiris. Gratis. Per signaturam. 

In December 1558 a band of Gypsies " came out of Scot- 

^ In May 1584 an Act of Parliament was passed against the gi-anting of 
such "respites and remissions for murder and other odious crimes." They 
appear to have been very frequently granted. 



THE LAWLORS IX ENGLAND. 45 

land into England by Carlisle ; " according to their own state- 
ment when arrested in the south of England in the following 
year. And Mr Crofton's observation that this was most likely 
the band apprehended in the October of the same year, in 
Gloucestershire, is quite borne out by the detail pointed out 
by him, that one of these was a "John Lallowe," and there- 
fore a probable kinsman of the Sebastian Lalow (or Lawlor) 
ah'eady notorious in Scotland.^ If the further support 
obtained by John Faw from the Scottish Government in 1553 
had proved of efl'ect, it is evident that the " rebel " party 
under Lalow must have found Scotland an undesirable place 
of abode. And although the laws of England did not 
greatly favour them, the officials of that country, at any rate, 
were not specially authorised to lend John Faw their 
" prisons, stocks, fetters, and all other things necessary " to 
enable him " to punish and do justice upon them for their 
'trespasses." Thus, it is extremely probable that Lawlow's 
company really did cross the Border in 1558. 

1 For these references, see Gyp. -Lore Soc. Jour., i. pp. 15, 16, and Mr 
Crofton's Tudors, pp. 16-18. 



CHAPTEE V. 

TO give full consideration to the various important state- 
ments quoted in the preceding chapter is impossible 
within the limits of this work. But some reference must 
be made to the most significant of these allusions. 

To those who have not studied the history of the Gypsies 
during the eighteenth, seventeenth, and sixteenth centuries, 
and to whom the word " Gypsy " only suggests a poor and 
often miserable outcast, it must appear almost incredible that 
the leader of the Aberdeen Gypsies of 1540 should have had 
" servants," or that he or his brother should have possessed 
" divers sums of money, jewels, clothes, and other goods to 
the quantity of a great sum of money." Yet, not only 
are these facts set forth by the highest authorities in the 
land, but they are also fully in agreement with descriptions 
given by various writers (by Simson, in his History, so far 
as regards Scotland), with reference to the Gypsies of past 
times. 

Commentators on the Privy Council writ of 1540, signed 
by King James V. at Falkland, in the February of that year, 
have also regarded as remarkable the clause in which the 
king charges " all our lieges that none of them molest, vex, 
inquiet, or trouble the said John Faw and his company in 
doing of their lawful business." So much has been said 
about the Gypsies in their character of marauders, thieves, 
and nomads, that the idea of their having any " lawful 
business," in the prosecution of which they received the full 
support of the authorities of the crown, seems an idea too 
absurd to be seriously entertained. Yet, as the King and 
Privy Council of Scotland constituted a body of intelligent, 
educated, and capable statesmen, it is evident that they meant 
what they said ; and that if their words and action seem 
incomprehensible to us, the fault lies with ourselves. If no 



THE " LAWFUL BUSINESS " OF GYPSIES. 47 

other document or reference remained to us but this writ 
of 1540, it would be of itself sufficient to show us that we 
do not clearly understand who or what the Gypsies were. 

What uKis the " lawful business " of John Faw and his 
company ? The word " faw," as we have seen, is synony- 
mous with " potter " in the Border districts ; and when 
"Wordsworth describes the Gypsy comrades of his " Female 
Vagrant," he says that " they with their pannier'd asses 
semblance made of potters wandering on from door to door." 
Then, again, " tinker " and " tinkler " were used to denote 
itinerant workers in metal. The hero of the old ballad of 
" Clout the Cauldron " sings — 

" My bonny lass, I work in brass, 
A Tinkler is my station." 

And Mrs Carlyle's celebrated ancestor spoken of in a 
previous chapter, was formally styled "William Baillie, 
brazier, commonly called Gypsy," in a precognition taken in 
the year 1725.^ Thus, John Faw and his company might 
have been potters or braziers, either of which occupations 
was a " lawful business." Or, again, they might have been 
makers of spoons and other articles of horn ; or dealers in 
ruddle, as many nomads in Scotland then and since have 
been. Further, they may have been pedlars. In discussino- 
the Gypsies of England, and referring specially to the Act 
passed against them in 1554, Mr H. T. Crofton cites Samuel 
Eid, author of the Art of Juggling, who, " when speaking of 
his own time, 1612, says:— 'These fellowes seeing that no 
profit comes by wandring, but hazard of their lives, do 
daily decrease and breake off their wonted society, and betake 
themselves many of them, some to be Pedlers, some Tinkers, 
some Juglers, and some to one kind of life or other.' " ' 
Here, then, it is distinctly stated that many Gypsies, about 
three centuries ago, were pedlars. It may well be questioned 
whether Rid was correct in assuming that they became 
pedlars, only after the Act of 1554. On the contrary, the 
indications are that they had been pedlars, tinkers, and 
jugglers for a very much longer period, liut, at any rate, it 
is clear that there were Gypsy pedlars in England towards 

* Cited at p. 206 of Simson's History. " Gyp. -Lore Soc. Jour., i. 13, 14. 



48 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

the close of the sixteenth century ; and there are several 
reasons for assummg that there were such in Scotland also. 
In one sense, indeed, tinkers and potters are " travelling 
merchants " as much as are those traders to whom the word 
" pedlar " is generally applied. 

Viewed in this light, the Gypsies, whatever their actual 
or nominal calling, were " travelling merchants ; " and as 
such they could claim rights under laws specially framed for 
them. In Scotland, this was known as " the law of farand- 
man," that is, " faring " or travelling man. Both in 
England and Scotland such " travelling-men " were, in the 
popular speech, appropriately styled " dusty-feet," or rather 
" dusty-foots." ^ In the language of legal documents they 
were known by the Latin and French equivalents of j:)«Ze 
jjulverosi, jjieds-jjoudrevses, and, more corruptly, inepoudrous 
or piepowdrous. For their benefit was established the now 
obsolete " Piepowder Court," or " Court of Dusty Foot," in 
England, and the " law of farandman or pipuderous " in Scot- 
land. In Scotland, this law is said to have been established 
during the reign of David I. (1124-1153). " King David 
statut that gif ony stranger man merchand (extrancus 
mercator^j or ony other passand thru the kinrik nocht 
hafand a certane duelling place within the sherradome hot 
beand vagabund in the contre the quhilk is callit 
pipouderus (non hcibcns certain mansionciii infra vicecomitatum 
sed vagans qui vacatur piepowdrous hoc est anglice dustifute) 
findis ane other man the quhilkis has done him felouny or 
jniur [injury] in ony manerquhar sumeuer" — he may obtain 
redress according to a form duly prescribed by the statute. 
Now, whatever the precise date of this enactment, it will be 
seen that it was peculiarly adapted to Gypsies, who had " no 
certain dwelling" in the country, or, at least, in many of the 
sheriffdoms through which they wandered, and who, in many 
cases were " c.dranci racrcatorcs." And when James V. 
charged " all our lieges that none of them molest, vex, 
inquiet, or trouble the said John Faw and his company in 
doing their lawful business," he does not appear to have 
been taking any new or revolutionary step, but rather to 

1 Corrupted into " dustyfats " in some of the English counties. (See 
Wright's and Halliwell's Dictionaries.) 



faring-man's law. 49 

have been enforcing the sj)irit of the already-existing " law 
of faring men." There is, of course, no evidence proving 
unmistakably that John Faw and his people were " extranei 
mercatores ; " but there are several good reasons for inferring 
that this was the case. If it be further inferred that they 
traded as pedlars do, in articles of wearing apparel, this 
might explain why the lambskin garments introduced into 
Scotland and France from Lombardy during the fifteenth 
century were known as " Eomany budge " or " furre 
Eommenis."^ One notable feature of the " faring-man's law" 
is that it appears to have been primarily, if not exclusively, 
framed for the benefit of "strangers." The statute assigned 
to King David does, indeed, refer to " any other," but the 
first place is given to the " stranger " merchant. And this 
interpretation is quite in agreement with the definition 
given by Sir John Skene in his De verborum significatione 
(Edinburgh, 1597), a glossary explaining " the termes and 
difficill wordes " in the Scottish Acts of Parliament. This 
reference may be given in full : " Farandman. Dc ludic. c. 47. 
Ane stranger or Pilgrimer, to quhome justice suld be done 
with all expedition ; That his peregrination be not stayed or 
stopped. Peregrini mercatores, dicimtur Farandman, lib. 
4., c. 39., in lib. Sconensi." 

Although " farandman " literally means a " traveller " it is 
evident that Skene regarded the word as denoting, in 1597, 
one special caste of travellers, the peregrini mercatores. Tliis 
is an important consideration when one turns to an incident 
of the year 1596, in which " sum licht [i.e. lawless or dis- 
solute] farandmen" took part. It appears that these " licht 
farandmen" had materially aided a certain "John Greg in 

^ Accounts of the Lord Hujh Treasurer of Scotland, i. 1473-98, Edinburgh, 
1877, pp. clxxxvii and 404. For reference to the "dusty-foot" laws, see 
Thomson's Acts of the Parliament of Scotkaul, vol. i., Appendix V., pp. 
29-30. With regard to England, the Act 17 Edward IV. c. 2 (1477) dealt 
with "courts of piepowders," and there are interesting references to 
"merchant strangers " and " pilgrim merchants " in the Acts 5 Henry IV. c. 
7 and 4 Edward IV. c. 10 (1403 and 1464). Mr Groome has also drawn 
attention (Gijp.-Lore Soc. Jour., i. 50) to "a charter of Edward the Tliird 
confirming and enlarging tlie privileges of St Giles Fair, Winchester, 1349 
A.D.," which mentions " those traders from foreign parts, called ' Dynamitters,' 
■who sell brazen vessels in the fair {de Hits Mcrcatoribus Alienigcnis vocatis 
Mcrcatoribus Dynamitters)." 

D 



50 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Kiiiloss," in the county of Elgin, in " violentlie," and " be way 
of bangistrie and minassis," ejecting the tenant of a farm 
which Greg seized upon.^ Greg himself appears to have 
been an ordinary inhabitant of Kinloss. But, according 
to Skene, his temporary followers must have belonged to 
the caste of " strangers or pilgrimers," otherwise peregrini 
mcrcatorcs. It is not stated that they were Gypsies. Yet, 
in combining the two apparently opposite qualities of trader 
and "masterful oppressor," they agree admirably with the 
Gypsies of the sixteenth-century documents, and with the 
later Gypsies of the eighteenth century, as described in the 
pages of Simson's History. 

The English writer of 1612 asserts that many of the 
Gypsies of England were then pedlars, tinkers, and jugglers. 
Formerly, and probably even in Pad's time, the word "juggler " 
denoted not only a performer of sleight-of-hand tricks and 
a mountebank, but also o. jongleur, or minstrel. In all its 
phases, the word is applicable to Gypsies. Indeed, the 
versatility of the Gypsies, and the number of their occupations 
and accomplishments, may be guessed at from the following 
account which Mr Simson gives of the gangs that traversed 
Tweeddale and Clydesdale last century : — 

"They employed themselves in repairing broken china, utensils 
made of copper, brass and pewter, pots, jjans and kettles, and 
white-iron articles generally But working in horn is con- 
sidered by them as their favourite and most ancient occupation. 

In gratitude for their free-quarters, they frequently made 

from old metal, smoothing-irons for the mistress, and sole-clouts 
for the ploughs of the master, and spoons for the family, from the 
horns of rams, or other horns that happened to be about the house ; 

for all of which they would take nothing Many practised 

music ; and the violin and bagpipes were the instruments they 
commonly used. This musical talent of the Gypsies delighted the 
country-people ; it operated like a charm upon their feelings, and 
contributed much to procure the wanderers a night's quarters. 

Some of the old women sold salves and drugs, while some 

of the males had pretensions to a little surgery." ^ 

All of the occupations just mentioned were, it is to be 
remembered, hereditary among the Gypsies ; and it must also 
be remembered that Mr Simson's description only shows the 

1 Register of tlie Privy Couiicil of Scotlaiul, vol. v., Edinburgh, 1882, p. 
342. 2 History, pp. 224-26. 



GYPSY LAW ENFORCED BY SCOTTISH CROWX. 51 

people in their decay, after nearly two centuries of persecution. 
There is every reason to believe that their accomplishments 
in the sixteenth century were much greater than in the 
eighteenth. 

If some of the references already cited in this chapter do 
not agree with the modern conception of a Gypsy, still more 
inconsistent with that idea is the undoubted fact that this 
same John Faw, who was described by James the Fifth, in 
15-40, and by the Eegent of Scotland, in 1553, as " our lovit,"^ 
was actually in possession of letters under the Great Seal 
of Scotland, commanding all the officers of justice in Scotland 
to assist John Faw " in execution of justice upon his com- 
pany and folks conform to the laws of Egypt and in punish- 
ing all those that rebel against him." Further, those officials 
were directly commanded, on the presentation to them by 
the Gypsy chief of his letters under the Great Seal, to give 
him every assistance in securing a certain specified rebellious 
section of his followers, for which purpose they were to lend 
to him their " prisons, stocks, fetters, and all other things 
necessary thereto." That Gypsies should be put in the 
stocks, or imprisoned, is quite in accordance with conven- 
tional ideas on the subject. But that the whole legal 
machinery of the realm of Scotland should be made subservient 
to the will of a Gypsy chief, in order that he might secure 
certain Gypsies who had scouted his authority, — this is a 
fact so wholly at variance with the ideas generally current 
regarding Gypsies, that it seems evident these ideas require 
to be amended. Nor was it even to execute Scottish law 
upon the culprits that this authority was given : it was 
avowedly given in order that John Faw might " execute 
justice upon his company and folks conform to his laws," — 
" conform to the laws of Egypt," — " so that the said John might 
have no cause for complaint hereupon in time coming nor 
to resort again to us [the King of Scotland, in Council] to 
that effect." This last clause is perhaps the most remarkable 
of alL For the Writ not only endorses and supplements all 
the powers granted in favour of the Gypsy chief, by means 
of the letter under the Great Seal, but it distinctly admits 

^ A term originally meaning "beloved," but ultimately applied iu a 
substantive sense to any of "the lieges." 



52 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

that if those mstructions were not properly carried out, he 
would have just " cause for complaint " against the King and 
his government ! 

It is further noteworthy that the Privy Council writ 
asserts that John Faw possessed an " Obligation " by Sebastian 
Lalow, which had been executed before the Master of the 
Eoyal Household at Dunfermline, whereby Sebastian bound 
himself and his " company " to remain with and under John 
Faw, " their lord and master." And it is to be observed 
that even Sebastian's revolt was not without Eoyal warrant ; 
for the writ recites that he had, " by sinister and wrong in- 
formation, false relation, and circumvention of us [the King], 
2)itrchased our ivritings discharging him " and his accomplices 
from their allegiance to Faw ; in which procedure he had 
enlisted the aid of a number of " our lieges." 

In spite of their undefined connection with the King and 
the constituted authorities, it will be seen from several of 
the references in last chapter that the Gypsies were dis- 
tinctly recognised as forming a separate community. This 
is quite apparent in the edicts just cited. It is also notice- 
able in the Aberdeen and Haddington incidents of 1540, 
where the leaders of the Gypsies are understood to be 
answerable for their respective companies. A parallel 
instance is that to be quoted on a subsequent page, where 
" Eobert Baillie, captain of certain Egyptians, was ready for 
himself and his company to answer at the instance of John 
Pollock, Green [?], for any crime." (The date of this last 
extract is 1579.) But the Privy Council " Precept," dated 
St Andrews, 26th May 1540, gave fuU power to John Wann, 
or Fall, to execute justice over all the Gypsies in Scotland. 

One result of this recognition of the Gypsy people as 
constituting an imperium in imperio was that, where Gypsies 
came into conflict with one another, the ordinary authorities 
of the land did not attempt to discover or punish the guilty 
party. The affair of Sebastian Lalow certainly forms an 
exception to this rule, but it will be noticed that the first 
advance was made by the Gypsies themselves, who applied to 
the King for aid. That the recognised practice was to 
abstain from interfering in all those cases where both the 
slayer and the slain were Gypsies, was plainly stated in a 



A SHETLAND TRIAL OF 1612. 53 

trial of certain Gypsies at Scalloway, Shetland, in 1612. 
The following concise account of this trial is given by My 
J. E. Tudor, in his Orkneys and Shetland (London, 1883), 
p. 117 :— 

" On Earl Patrick's imprisonment, Bishop Law for a short time 
held sway in the islands, not only in his episcoiml capacity, but also 
as holding the King's commission as sheriff, and held his first court 

at Scalloway on the 21st day of August, 1612 At this court 

' Johne Faw elder, callit mekill Johne Faw, Johne Faw younger, 
calit Littill Johne Faw, Katherin Faw, spous to umquhill Murdo 
Brown, Agnes Faw, sister to the said Litill Johne wer indicted ' for 
the murder of the said Murdo Brown, and Littill Johne for incest 
with his wife's sister and her daughter, and for adultery with 
Katherine Faw, and all for theft, sorcery, and fortune-telling, ' and 
that they can help or hinder in the proffeit of the milk of bestiale.' 
Katherine, who pleaded guilty to having slain her husband with ' a 
lang braig knyff,' was sentenced ' to be tane to the Bulwark and 
cassen over the same in the sey to be drownit to the death and dome 
given thairupone, and decerns the remanent persones to be quyt of 
the crymes abonewritten.' Walter Ritchie, who seems to have 
appeared as counsel for the accused, pleaded that it was not usual to 
take cognisance of murder amongst the EgyptiansP 

It appears {oj). cit., p. 466) that this plea was not ad- 
mitted, and that the doomed woman was duly "drowned to 
the death " ; but it is evident that Bishop Law, in thus sit- 
ting in judgment upon a Gypsy who had killed another 
Gypsy, was breaking in upon the established usage prior to 
1612. 

Turning for a moment from Scotland to England, one 
seems to find similar evidence there. " A man, by Gypsy 
law, brother," says one of Borrow's female Gypsies,^ " is 
allowed to kick and beat his wife, and to bury her alive, if 
he thinks proper. I am a Gypsy, and have nothing to say 
against the law." That is to say, assuming this statement 
to be correct, an English Gypsy could kill his wife, if he 
liked, without suffering for the crime. Had it been the 
practice of the English authorities to execute one Gypsy for 
the murder of another, this custom would speedily have died 
out. That English Gypsies formerly exercised the right of 
life and death over their wives seems also to be indicated 

^ Ursula, ill The Romany Rye, chap. xi. 



54 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

by Shakespeare, when he makes the Duke in Twelfth Night 
say (Act V. Scene 1) : — 

" Why should I not, had I the heart to do it, 
Like to the Egyptian thief, at point of death, 
Kill what I love ; a savage jealousy. 
That sometime savours nobly % " 

" Egyptian thieves," in Shakespeare's time and country, 
were English Gypsies ; as one may see, for example, from 
Dekker's Lanthorne and Candle Light (1609)/ And the 
custom he refers to appears to denote that the English 
Gypsies of his time not only kept up the ancient custom of 
sending a chief's wife to the other world along with her 
husband, but they were permitted to do so without any 
intervention on the part of the English magistrates. 

With regard to Scotland, moreover, there are many in- 
stances in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries which 
show that, long after 1612, the bloody and often deadly con- 
flicts between rival Gypsy clans were regarded with com- 
parative indifference by the non-Gypsy inhabitants of Scot- 
land ; who, indeed, probably rejoiced to see their turbulent 
neighbours engaged in mutual warfare instead of preying 
upon the general population. One description of such a 
scene, from the graphic pen of the Ettrick Shepherd,^ is well 
worthy of quotation here, both because it illustrates the 
point in question, and also for the picture it gives of Gypsy 
life in the south of Scotland, at the close of the Stewart 
period : — 

"It was in the month of May [about the year 1717] that a gang 
of Gypsies came up Ettrick ; — one party of them lodged at a farm- 
house called Scob-Cleugh, and the rest went forward to Cossarhill, 
another farm about a mile farther on. Among the latter was one 
who played on the pipes and violin, delighting all that heard him ; 
and the gang, principally on his account, were very civilly treated. 
Next day the two parties again joined, and proceeded westward in 
a body. There were about thirty souls in all, and they had fine 
horses. On a sloping grassy spot, which I know very well, on the 
farm of Brockhoprig, they halted to rest. Here the hapless musician 
quarrelled with another of the tribe about a girl, who, I think, was 
sister to the latter. Weapons were instantly drawn, and the piper 

1 The passage describing those "Egyptians" has been quoted in full by 
Mr John Sampson in the Gyp. -Lore Soc. Jour., iii, 248-50. ^ Quoted in 
Blackwood's Magazine, April 1817. 



GYPSY VIOLENCE. 55 

losing courage, or knowing that he was not a match for his 
antagonist, fled — the other pursuing close at his heels. For a full 
mile and a half thej' continued to strain most violently, — tlie one 
running for life, and the other thirsting for blood, — until they came 
again to Cossarhill, the place they had left. The family were ail 
gone out, either to the sheep or the peats, save one servant girl, 
who was baking bread at the kitchen table, when the piper rushed 
breathless into the house. She screamed, and asked what was the 
matter ? He answered ' Nae skaith to you — nae skaith to you — 
for God in heaven's sake hide me ! ' With that he essayed to hide 
himself behind a salt barrel that stood in a corner ; but his ruthless 
pursuer instantly entering, his panting betrayed him. The ruffian 
pulled him out by the hair, dragged him into the middle of the 
floor, and ran him through the body with his dirk. The piper 
never asked for mercy, but cursed the other as long as he had 
breath. The girl was struck motionless with horror, but the 
murderer told her never to heed or regard it, for no ill should 

happen to her By the time the breath was well out of the 

unfortunate musician, some more of the gang arrived, bringing 
with them a horse, on which they carried back the body, and buried 
it on the spot where they first quarrelled. His grave is marked by 
one stone at the head, and another at the foot, which the Gypsies 
themselves placed ; and it is still looked upon by the rustics as a 
dangerous place for a walking ghost to this day. There was no 
cognizance taken of the affair, that any of the old people ever 
heard of ; but God forbid that every amorous minstrel should be 
so sharply taken to task in these days ! " 



CHAPTEE VI. 

IN his Genealogie of the Saintedaires of Rosslyn} Father 
Eichard Augustine Hay introduces a Gypsy incident 
which ought evidently to be placed some time within the 
latter half of the sixteenth century. At that period, the 
head of the family was Sir William Sinclair, of whom the 
family chronicler states that " he was made Lord Justice- 
General by Francis ^ and Marie, King and Queen of Scotland, 
in 1559." And Father Hay relates that, among the various 
acts of Sir William Sinclair's life, " he delivered once ane 
Egyptian from the gibbet in the Burrow Moore, ready to be 
strangled, returning from Edinburgh to Eoslin, upon which 
accoumpt the whole body of gypsies were, of old, accustomed 
to gather in the stanks [marshes] of Eoslin every year, where 
they acted severall plays, dureing the moneth of May and 
June. There are two towers," he adds, " which were allowed 
them for their residence, the one called Eobin Hood, the 
other Little John." Whatever may be the precise date of 
this incident, it is evident from an order of the Privy Council, 
to be afterwards cited, that the Gypsies enjoyed the favour 
and protection of the Eoshn family as late as the first quarter 
of the seventeenth century. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy reference in the above extract 
from Father Hay's chronicle is the statement that the Gypsies 
yearly " acted severall plays " at Eoslin Castle, or in the 
adjoining " stanks," and that, like Wilhelm Meister and his 
fellow-actors, they had two towers (presumably in Eoshn 
Castle) assigned to them as their residence, the period of 
their residence being apparently the whole of May and June. 
There are many statements which indicate that the Gypsies 
in Scotland and elsewhere, were once held in much higher 

^ Printed from the original MS., and edited by J. Maidment, Edinburgh, 
1835 {vide p. 136). ^ Francis II. of France, husband of Marj- of Scotland. 



STROLLING PLAYERS AT ROSLIN. 57 

esteem than now ; but none is more significant than this. 
In England, at the present day, there are still many Gypsies 
■who — although they lead a nomadic life — are much more 
refined than average workpeople or petty tradesmen. But 
it is scarcely conceivable that even a selection of the best of 
these would be offered free quarters for a month or two in 
any nobleman's castle ; and this not once only, but every 
year. Obviously, however, these Eoslin Gypsies ought to be 
regarded in the light of a company of strolling-players, which 
is really what they were. 

After making a full extract from Sir William Ouseley's 
Travels in Persia, whence it clearly appears that the Persian 
Gypsies are puppet-showmen, and that they, indeed, go 
through a performance that is plainly a version of " Punch 
and Judy," Mr F. H. Groome remarks: — "At Gottingen, 
in 1873, I several times came across a family of German 
Gypsies, very full-blooded ones, who were marionette 
showers ; and Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor 
(1851) shows that the slang of an English Punch and Judy 
man contains several Eomani words. The ' plays ' that the 
Gypsies used to act at Eoslin Castle, near Edinburgh, 
between 1559-1628, — what were they?"^ He also subjoins 
several extracts which tend to show that Gypsies in England 
were associated with — it may be identified with — the 
itinerant preformers known as " motion-men," or " gallantee- 
showmen," who acted " mysteries " and miracle-plays by 
means of marionettes, and transparencies. But although 
this detail is very interesting, it cannot be enlarged upon 
here. Moreover, the Gypsies who " acted several plays " 
during their residence at Eoslin were clearly actors, and not 
mere pupi)et-showmen. And it is surely more than a co- 
incidence that the towers assigned to them were known as 
"Eobin Hood" and "Little John." It seems equally 
significant that their performances took place every year in 
May and June. Because " Eobin Hood and Little John " 
was one of the most famous of the May-tide plays in Scot- 
land, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. And 
like the Gypsies tliemselves, it came under the ban of the 
law. By an Act passed on 20th June 1555, the Scottish 
^ Gyp.- Lore Soc. Jour., ii. 23-24. 



68 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Parliament " ordained that in all time coming no manner of 
person be chosen Eohcrt Hudc, nor Little John, Abbot of 
unreason, Queenis of Maij, nor otherwise," under various 
severe pains and penalties. " Any women or others about 
Summer trees singing," and " making perturbation to the 
Queen's Lieges," were also severely dealt with by the same 
Act. 

Thus, it would appear that of the " several plays " acted 
by the Gypsies during their two months' residence in Eoslin 
Castle, the play of " Eobin Hood " was one of the most im- 
portant, — probably the most important. What the others 
were can only be conjectured. But one would think that a 
search in the charter chest of the noble family of Eoslin 
would throw light upon this detail and upon the Gypsies 
themselves. 

Although a few Eomani words still linger among puppet- 
showmen, and even on the stage,^ there is now no visible 
connection between actors and Gypsies. Yet, the assump- 
tion that the two were formerly intermingled would do much 
to explain the severe laws once in force against " strolling 
players." It is certainly noteworthy that the word caird 
(Gaelic cearcl), which properly signifies " an artificer," but 
which has been for centuries equivalent to"' tinker," in Scot- 
land, was also regarded as a synonym for " actor " or 
" buffoon " in the sixteenth century. In the latter part of 
that century, Father James Dalrymple translated Leslie's 
History of Scotland from the original Latin (Eome, 1575, 
1578) into the Scottish speech of his time. Now, in that 
Histoin/ the following statement is made regarding an early 
King of Scotland ^: — " Cairds and bards, gamesters, gluttons, 
and such kind of men that delighted in nothing but idleness, 
he banished, for the most part, quite out of his country, and 
compelled many of them to seek their living with all hard- 
ship and drudgery." The original Latin of the first four 
terms quoted is : — " Mimos, hardos, histriones, parasitos ; " 
whence we see that Father Dalrymple regarded caird (i.e. 
tinker) as the most suitable translation for miiims. There is 

^ See Mr Leland's English Gypsies, London, 1874, p. 94. ^ gaid to have 
reigned circa 600 ; but with regard to the authenticity of the History, nothing 
need be said here. The point is the sixteenth-century usage. 



TINKERS AND JONGLEURS. 59 

a visible kinship between all the four terms, but the 
significant fact is that a Scottish ecclesiastic of the sixteenth 
century practically tells us that tinkers were actors, mounte- 
banks, or buffoons.^ A fact of equal significance is that, 
in the laws against " the idle, vagabond, and counterfeited 
people calling themselves Egyptians," they are associated 
with, if not actually identified with " fancied fools " and 
"professed pleasants." The evidence in England, at about 
the same period, points to the same conclusions. We have 
seen that Samuel Eid, writing in 1612, says that the EugHsh 
Gypsies were then pedlars, tinkers, and "jugglers," which 
last word had formerly a wider meaning than now, — 
signifying, as it certainly did at a still earlier period, actor, 
mountebank, and musician, as well as a performer of sleight- 
of-hand tricks. Dekker, again, who wrote three years before 
Eid, speaks thus of the English Gypsies : — " Their apparel is 
odd and fantastic, though it be never so full of rents ; the 
men wear scarfs of calico, or any other base stuff, hanging 
their bodies like Morris-dancers, with bells and other toys, 
to entice the country-people to flock about them, and to 

wonder at their fooleries, or rather rank knaveries 

Yet the simple country-people will come running out of their 
houses to gaze upon them, whilst in the mean time one steals 
into the next room, and brings away whatsoever he can lay 
hold on. Upon days of pastime and liberty, they spread 
themselves in small companies amongst the villages ; and 

when young maids and batchelors do flock about them, 

they then profess skill in palmistry, and (forsooth) can tell 
fortunes ; which, for the most part, are infallibly true, by 
reason that they work upon rules which are grounded upon 
certainty ; for one of them will tell you that you shall 
shortly have some evil luck fall upon you, and within half 
an hour after you shall find your pocket picked, or your 
purse cut." This, one may remark in passing, is singularly 
like the description given of a troop of Gypsies who visited 
Paris in 1427, of whom it was said that — "there were 
witches in their company who looked into people's hands 
and told what had happened to them, or what would happen, 

^ Tliis reference, with many additional comments, will be found in the 
Gyjh-Lorc Soc. Juur., iii. 127, 183-85. 



60 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

and sowed discord among several married people, for they 
said (to the husband), ' Your wife has played you false ; or 
to the wife, ' Your husband has been untrue to you,' And 
what was still worse, while they were speaking to people, by 
magic or otherwise, or by the enemy in hell, or by dexterity 
and skill, it was said they emptied people's purses and filled 
their own." " The children, boys and girls, were as clever 
as could be," says the same chronicler, who himself saw 
them ; and M. Paul Bataillard, who cites his account at 
length,^ adds : " It appears that they performed feats of 
skill and strength," 

What Mr John Sampson has referred to as " the number 
and variety of ' kindly epithets ' " applied to the Gypsies by 
Dekker,^ would almost tempt one to quote the whole of his 
quaint description. But it will be seen from the foregoing 
that the Gypsies of Shakespeare's time were, to a grea.t 
extent, strolling mountebanks, amusing the simple country- 
folk, whom they at the same time tricked and robbed. And 
in glancing for a moment at other countries, the same 
evidence is obtained. In Scandinavia, a gang of Gypsies is 
called a Fante-f0lge ; that is to say, literally, a troupe of 
mountebanks, or harlequins, or buffoons. The French reference 
just quoted shows that the fifteenth-century Gypsies of 
France were — as Beranger sings — " sorciers, hateleurs et 
filous;" and even yet a cunning Gypsy woman — a cajoleusc 
— is called a charlatane ; a term synonymous with the 
Italian gioculatrice, defined by Baretti as " a she-juggler, a 
cunning Gypsy." And in Spain, an edict of 1512 speaks 
of " Gypsies and fools styled Gypsies." It may be said, of 
course, that the fact of Gypsies having been mountebanks, 
charlatans, and joculatores does not prove them to have been 
actors in the higher sense of the word. And undoubtedly 
mirmis and histrio are not synonymous ; although the one 
I shades into the other. How much more akin they were in 
former times may be seen from the following statement of 
Lacroix: — "In the sixteenth century these dancers and 
Itumblers became so numerous that they were to be met with 
Jevery where, in the provinces as well as in the towns. Many 

^ Gyp.-Lore Soc. Jour., ii. 28-31. ^ Such as "Egyptian lice," " tawuy 
devils," "hell-liounds," &c. 



" SORCIERS, BATELEURS ET FILOUS." 61 

of them were Bohemians or Zingari, They travelled in 
companies, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, and 
sometimes with some sort of a conveyance containing the 
accessories of their craft and a travelling theatre." ^ Here 
we have Gypsies figuring not only as mimi, but as histriones ; 
and it is clearly under this latter heading that one ought to 
place those Scottish Gypsies of the sixteenth century, 
who " acted several plays " every summer in the " stanks " 
of Eoslin. 

^ Manners and Customs of the Middle Ages, London, 1876, p. 230. 



CHAPTEE VII. 

THE second half of the sixteenth century contains several 
other references to the Scottish Gypsies in addition to 
those already noticed. One of these belongs more strictly to 
the history of the Netherlands, but it nevertheless deserves 
mention here. In his Heidens of Egyptiers} Mr J. Dirks 
quotes an entry of 6 th July 1564, from a Middelburg record 
of that period, which is to this effect: — 

"Bastiaen [Sebastian] Hervi of the nation of Heydens \i.e. 
Gypsies], born at Bergen-op-Zoom, of mother and father of the 
same nation, and Catharina Catilho, his wife, of the same nation, 
but born in Guelderland, together with Catharine Mosroesse, of 
the same nation, but born in Scotland banished from Zea- 
land, Holland, and Friesland for the rest of their lives." 

The surname of the Gypsy woman last named cannot 
easily be identified with that borne by any other Scottish 
Gypsy, but there may have been some misapprehension on 
the part of the Dutch writer. At any rate, the place of 
her birth is worthy of notice. 

During the Regency of the Earl of Morton (after the 
abdication of Queen Mary, and while her son was still in his 
minority) the question of dealing with the " Egyptians " was 
twice before the Privy Council, — in 1573 and 1576 ; and 
the " charges " issued on both occasions prove that the 
Gypsies were regarded with anything but favour by the then 
governing powers. The first of these is glossed as a " Charge 
upoun the Egiptianis," and is as follows : ^ — 

Apud Halyruidhous, tertio Aprilis, anno, etc., Ixxui". 
Forsamekill as it is understand to my Lord Eegentis Grace and 
Lordis of Prevy Counsale, that the commouu weill of this realme is 

1 Utrecht, 1850, p. 130. ^ p_ 2IO of the Register of the Privy Council of 
Scottanid, vol. ii. 1569-78 A.D. : H.M. General Register House, Edinburgh, 
1878. 



"CHARGE UPON THE EGYPTIANS," 1573. 63 

greittumlie dampnifeit and harmit, throw certane vagabound ydill 
and countirfute people of diverse nationis falslie namyt Egiptianis 
levand in stowth and utheris unlauchf ull meanys, quhilkis hes bene 
lang permittit to wander up and doun this realme unpuneist : 
quhais owersicht and impunitie apperis to bring greittar incon- 
venientis gif haistie remeid beis not providit. Thairfoir ordanis 
letters to be direct to command and charge all and sindry the 
saidis ydill vagabound and countirfaittit people calland thame selffis 
Egiptianis, men, wemen, and bairnis, that thay and every ane of 
thame — owther depart furth of this realme and na wayis returne 
thairin of new ; or ellis settill thame selffis at certane dwelling- 
places with maisteris, gevand knawlege to the Magistrattis of the 
cuntre or burgh of the samyn, be quhat honest meane craft or 
industre they have dedicat thame selffis to leif, betuix [this date] 
and the first day of Maii nix to cum ; with certificatioun to thame 
that failyeis, they salbe usit and demanit thaireftir as thevis. 
Quhilk first day of Maii being bipast, it salbe lauchfull to tak and 
apprehend the personis quhatsumevir fund doand in the contrair ; 
and to convoy thame and entir thame in the publict jDresonis of 
the nixt burgh, quhair my Lord Regentis Grace ordanis thame to 
be ressavit and kepit upoun thair awin expensis during the space 
of audit dayis, and at the end of the same aucht dayis, except thay 
find cautioun to observe this present ordinance, to be scurgit 
throughout the toun or parrochyn ; and swa to be impresonit and 
scurgit fra parrochyn to parrochyn quhill thay be utterlie removit 
furth of this realme. 

That this nominally severe ordinance was never really put 
into force is seen from the fact that the Parliament which 
met at Edinburgh on the 5th of March 1574 found it neces- 
sary to pass an Act " for the staunching of masterful idle 
beggars, away-putting of sorners, and provision for the poor," 
wherein the Gypsies are specially named as belonging to the 
class requiring to be " staunched." For, in order 

"That it may be known what manner of persons are meant to be 
idle and strong beggars and vagabonds, and worthy of the jiunish- 
ment before specified, it is declared," by this Act, "that all idle 
persons going about in any country of this realm using subtle, 
crafty, and unlawful plays — as jugglery, fast and loose,' and such 
others ; the idle peoi:>le calling themselves Egyptians, or any other 
that feign themselves to have knowledge in physiognomy, palmistry, 

1 "A well-known Gypsy trick," says Mr Lucas [Yeihobn Illatory of the 
Gypsies, p. 145). It is thus referred to by another writer (Robert Bell, in a 
note to Hudibras, part iii. canto ii.): — "Fast and loose, formerly called 
pricking at the belt or j:;irdle, a cheatinj^ game still in vogue amongst 

trampers and impostors at fairs There are numerous allusions to this 

game in the dramatic writings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries." 



64 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

or other abused sciences, whereby they persuade the people that 
they can tell their weirds [destiny], deaths, and fortunes, and such 

other fantastical imaginations shall be taken, adjudged, 

deemed and punished as strong beggars and vagabonds." ^ 

Although the Act inckides other varieties of the vagrant 
class, not here specified, as coming under the denomination 
of " idle and strong beggars and vagabonds," it is e^ident 
that the clauses just quoted are pointed directly at Gypsies. 
As if it were not sufficient to state that the fact of their 
being " Egyptians " brought them within the meaning of the 
Act, several of their most salient characteristics are particu- 
larised ; so that apparently no excuse was left them for 
pleading exemption. 

" The punishment before specified " was, that any one 
found contravening this Act after 1st June 1574 was to be 
imprisoned, and, if convicted, to be "scourged and burnt 
throw the gristle of the right ear with a hot iron of the 
compass of an inch about." ^ But if " some honest and re- 
sponsible person " agreed to take the offender into his 
service, the penalty was not enforced. Should he, however, 
quit this service before the expiry of a year, against the will 

He cites the following apt reference made by Shakespeare {Antony and 
Cleopatra, Act IV. Scene 10) : — 

" this false soul of Egj'pt 

Like a right Gypsy hath, at fast and loose, 
Beguiled me to the very heart of loss." 
^ In this and similar extracts I have modernised the spelling. ^ The 
Act of 1424 against "beggars and idle men," of which the above is 
little more than an amplification, orders such people "to labour and pass 
to crafts, for winning of their living, under the pain of lurning on the cheek, 
and banishing of the country." That of 1449, for "the away-putting of 
sorners, feigned fools and vagabonds," decreed '^ t\ia.t their ears he nailed to 
the tron [the weighing-post of the public market-place], or to another tree [or 
beam], and their ear cut off, and [themselves] banished the country. And 
if thereafter they be found again, that they be hanged." None of such 
enactments were repealed. On the contrary, the above Act of 1574 recites 
in its preamble the penalty of the loss of the culprit's ear. And, although 
the Act last named substitutes the burning of the right ear for the penalty of 
burning on the cheek (1424) or the loss of an ear, yet it will be seen (pp. 100-1, 
post), that in 1636, as also at Banff in 1700, certain convicted Gypsies were 
condemned to be burnt upon the cheek ; while in 1714 a Gypsy woman was 
nailed by the ear "to a post at the cross ; " and although it is not stated 
that her ear was thereafter cut off, this act of mutilation was practised up 
till the beginning of the eighteenth century ; Simson's History, p. 203). 



STRONG AND IDLE BEGGARS PUNISHED. 65 

of his employer, the convicted person was to undergo the 
allotted punishment, if apprehended. For sixty days there- 
after he was free from a repetition of that punishment, but 
if he remained after that time " in his idle and vagabond 
trade of life," he was then condemned to " suffer the pains 
of death as a thief." 

Like several of its forerunners, the Act of 1574 provided, 
by means of local taxation, for the " sustentation of the poor 
and impotent," as well as for the " punishment of strong and 
idle beggars." What it aimed at was to discriminate 
between helpless and innocent distress, and that indigence 
which, without begging or stealing, would have been the fate 
of " persons living idly and fleeing labour." But its most 
severe clauses did not apply to those who were under four- 
teen or above seventy years of age.^ For the children 
under fourteen who could not plead bodily weakness, the 
Act provided a species of slavery akin to that to which the 
full-grown " sturdy beggar " was liable. For it ordained that 

" If any beggar's child, being above the age of five years and 
within fourteen, male or female, shall be liked of l^y any subject of 
the realm of honest estate, the said person shall have the child by 
order and direction of the ordinary judges bound [i.e. ai^prenticedl 
with him, if he be a man-child, to the age of twenty-four years, and 
if she be a woman-child to the age of eighteen years ; and if they 
depart, or be taken or enticed from their master or mistress' service, 
the master or mistress to have the like action and remedy as for 
their fee'd servant and apprentice, as well against the child as 
against the taker or enticer thereof." 

This, it may again be repeated, applied to any contravener 
of the Act, G-ypsy or Gentile ; but it is quite plain that all 
the little Gypsies in Scotland were thereby made liable to a 
youth of enforced servitude; unless their parents adopted a 
settled and reputable way of living. 

The Gypsies, however, seem to have laughed Privy Coun- 
cil and Parliament alike to scorn. For, in the year 1576, 
the Lord Regent and his Privy Council found it necessary 
to issue another " charge " in even stronger terms than tlie 
first. After quoting, in its preamble, the edict of 1573, this 
order states that the former " has not only wanted execution, 

^ Thft limits obser\'e(l also in the Act of 1424 (c. 42. " The age, mark, and 
pain [penalty] of beggars "}. 

E 



66 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS, 

but also the said idle vagabonds have continued in their 
wicked and mischievous manner of living, committing 
murders, theft, and abusing the simple and ignorant people 
with sorcery and divination, to the great offence of God and 
contempt of our Sovereign Lord's authority." Accordingly, 
the Council direct letters to be issued to all the sheriffs and 
other representatives of the Government throughout Scot- 
land, commanding them 

That thay and every ane of thame within thair awin boundis and 
jurisdictioun, serche and seik the saidis ydle vagabound and coun- 
terfaited people ealland thame seliEs Egiptianis, and present tliame 
within the Tolbuith of Edinburgh, to suffer tryell and jugement for 
sic crymes and offenssis as thay ar delaitit and suspectit of, betuix 
the dait heirof and the fyftene day of October nix to cum, nocht- 
withstanding ony licence or privilege that thay can pretend, as the 
saidis officiaris will answer to oure Soverane Lord upoun thair 
obedience and diligence at thair uttirmest charge and perrell ; 
certifeing thame quhilkis salbe found remysse and negligent heirin, 
— in caise ony of the saidis ydle and vagabound people may be 
provin to be permittit to wander and remane within ony of thair 
offices and jurisdictionis eftir the said day, — the saidis ordinar 
officiaris sa suffering and permitting thame, and not apprehending 
and presenting thame within the said Tolbuith of Edinburgh 
betuix and the said day, as said is,— thay salbe repute and haldin as 
favouraris and sustenaris of thevis and murtheraris, and callit and 
persewit thairfoir according to the generall band and the panis of the 
same execute upoun thame with all rigour in exernpill of utheris.^ 

Such an enactment as this — wherein Gypsies are without 
exception treated as " thieves and murderers " — ought to 
have cleared the country of them altogether, one would 
think. More especially as the very officers of the law — 
sheriffs, lords of regality, and others — were to be held liable 
to the severest penalties that could he exacted from 
" sustainers " of thieves and murderers, if it could be found 
that any Gypsies were in existence within the bounds of 
their jurisdictions after 15th October 1576. And yet the 
Gypsies were not rooted out ! On the contrary, we see 
some of them living apparently quite at ease in one of the 
northern counties of Scotland in the very year following the 
issue of this terrible decree. This appears from a reference 
in a celebrated trial of the year 1590 — the trial of Lady 

^ Pp. 555-56 of the Rccjister of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. ii., A.D. 
1569-78 : H.M. Register House, Edinburgh, 1878. 



EDICTS OF 1576 AND 1579. 67 

Fowlis for " certain crimes of witchcraft." In this trial, the 
fifteenth " point " of the " dittay " against Lady Fowlis 
accused her of sending her servant " to the Egiptianis, to 
haif knawledge of thame how to poysoun the young Laird of 
Fowles and the young Lady Balnagoune." This happened 
in 1577 ; and although Lady Fowlis' trial did not take place 
till 1590, her servant had long before been convicted of this 
offence " and burnt for the same," It may be noted that 
the Gypsies seem merely to have been appealed to for advice, 
as the actual poison itself (rat-poison) was bought from 
" Thomas Eoiss, merchant in Aberdene, in Eigne." ^ 

From the Privy Council edict of 1576, it is evident that 
not only the " Charge " of 1573, but also the very explicit 
Act of the Parliament of 1574 had " wanted execution." 
Accordingly, the Privy Council issued in 1576 those direc- 
tions to the sheriff's and officials throughout Scotland which, 
as already noted, declared the very officials themselves as 
guilty of " favouring and sustaining thieves and murderers," 
if they were found remiss in their duty of searching out and 
bringing to justice the " Egyptians " within their jurisdiction. 
Notwithstanding this, the Gypsies continued to exist in Scot- 
land, as may be seen from the Lady Fowlis incident, just 
quoted ; and as is still more strongly proved by the passing 
in 1579 of another Act "for punishment of strong and idle 
beggars, and relief of the poor and impotent." 

This Act was very closely a copy of its precursor of 1574. 
Like it, it begins by referring to " sundry lovable Acts of 
Parliament," previously passed for the same purpose, and, like 
it, it includes " the idle people calling themselves Egyptians " 
(with other descriptive clauses obviously denoting them) as 
among the " persons meant to be idle and strong beggars and 
vagabonds, and worthy of the punishment before specified." 
Like that of 1574, also, this Act explains its existence by 
stating that its forerunners " in times bypast have not been 
put to due execution through the iniquities and troubles of 
the times Ijypast [referring to the very disturbed state of 
Scotland], and by reason that there was not heretofore an 
order of punishment so specially devised as need required." 

^ See Pitcairii's Criminal Trials in Scotland, Eilinbiirgli, 1833, vol. i. part 
ii. pp. 192-201 (specially p. 196). 



68 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

It re-enacts also the laws as to the enforced servitude of 
" sturdy beggars " and their children ; and in short, it is 
practically a repetition of the Act of 1574. One additiona. 
statement, resulting perhaps from the fact that James VL 
though only a lad, was now at the head of affairs, is to the 
effect that " the said beggars, besides the other inconvenients 
which they daily produce in the commonwealth, procure the 
wrath and displeasure of God for the wicked and ungodly 
form of living used amongst them, without marriage or 
baptising of a great number of their bairns." It cannot be 
positively affirmed, however, that there is any indication that 
the Gypsies, any more than others of " the said beggars," are 
here denoted ; or, indeed, that the reference applies to them 
at all. 

As for the apology " that there was not heretofore an 
order of punishment so specially devised as need required," 
for the suppression of those nomadic and " idle " castes, it is 
ludicrously feeble ; certainly in the case of the Act last 
mentioned. For it was merely an echo of that of 1574, 
which, if put into force, would have settled the whole question 
within a year. So far as it related to Gypsies, they had not 
a loophole of escape. Not to take into account several other 
clauses which struck at them indirectly, the mere declaration 
that " Egyptians " were to be held as " masterful idle beggars 
and sorners " was virtually a condemnation of the whole race, 
without the necessity of another word. For, by an Act of 
1455, " sorners " were declared to be " thieves or reivers," 
and, as such, subject to death, whenever apprehended. 
A previous Act, of 1449, had condemned them to banishment 
in the first instance, and death if they were again found in 
Scotland. And as early as 1424 they were condemned to 
banishment. In fact, the worst features of Gypsydom could 
have been stamped out at once by means of existing laws, 
without the need of the name " Egyptian " ever appearing in 
an Act of Parliament. But besides all this, they had already 
been explicitly dealt with in the Privy Council edicts of 
1576 and 1573, and the intervening Act of 1574. And even 
these, distinct and forcible as they were, were not necessary. 
For the " Letters to the Sheriffs and Boroughs for Expelling 
of Egyptians " from Scotland, which at the command of the 



A GYPSY BAND AT GLASGOW IX 1579. 69 

King and his Privy Council were sent to these authorities 
throughout the country, in June 1541, contained warrant 
enough to leave no Gypsy in the land after the expiry of 
that year. Tiius, the excuse pleaded in the preambles of the 
Acts of 1574 and 1579 was really no excuse at all. Of anti- 
Gypsy legislation there had been, and there was yet to be, 
more than enough. The fault did not lie in the absence of 
" an order of punishment so specially devised as need required," 
but in the inability of the Government to put into force the 
many such orders that had long existed. 

The Parliament which passed the Act last refeiTed to began 
its sittings at Edinburgh on the 22d of October 1579. An 
entry made in the records of Glasgow in the previous summer 
shows us the presence of a Gypsy band in that city, at that 
date, (And it may be noticed, in passing, that it clearly 
illustrates what has just been said as to the futility of the 
enactments previously made.) Among certain " Extracts 
from the Eecords of the Burgh of Glasgow, a.d. 1573-1642," ^ 
appears this entry : — 

" 31 ,hdy 1579. — Robert BailHe, capitane of certane Egiptianes, 
wes reddy for himself and his cumpany to ansuer at the instans of 
Johne Pollok, Gi'eyn, for ony cryra, quha comperit nocht to persew 
and thairfor protestit for releve thairof." 

Down to the present day, Baillie has been a famous name 
among the Scottish Gypsies, and it was so forty years before 
the date of the above reference.^ Whether the Robert 
Baillie who figured at Glasgow in 1579, ought to be identified 
with the " Eobert Bayly " of 1569 who underwent chastise- 
ment for vagrancy, at Higham Fen-ars, in Northamptonshire,^ 
is matter for conjecture. It is not at all unlikely, at any 
rate, that the " captain " of the Gypsy band at Glasgow, in 
1579, was the same person as a certain " Capitane Baillie " 

^ Glasgow, printed for the Scottish Tjiirgh Reconls Society, 1876 (p. 75). 
2 In the Privy Council Writ of 1540, wliere " Towla Bailzow " and 
" Geleyr Bailzow" appear among the rebels .against John Faw's authority. 
This fomi of the oame is used by Scott in The Heart of MuUothian, where 
(chap, li.) " Annaple Bailzou, a beggar and fortune-teller" figures. But 
the more common forms in recent centuries were Baiizie or Bailyo (the 
Scotch "z" being simjily "y"), and Baillie. That all these forms are 
variants of the Norman Bailleul or Baliol is undoubted. ^ See Gijp.-Lorc. Sue. 
Jour., i. 1, p. 17, 



70 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

who was hanged at Edinburgh on 4th December 1594, 
" for counterfetting the Great Seall agains the merchants." ^ 
Counterfeiting was a favourite Gypsy weakness ; indeed, a 
later representative of the same family, a William Baillie, 
(always to be remembered as one of the progenitors of Jane 
Welsh Carlyle) who was also a celebrated Gypsy " captain," 
was accused in the year 1699, and again in 1715, " with being 
art and part in forging and using a forged pass or certificate." 
He, however, was more fortunate than his namesake of 1594 ; 
as he succeeded in obtaining an acquittal. Still more 
probably akin to the William Baillie of 1699, and the Gypsy 
captain of 1579, is that " Williame Bailzie, Egiptiane," whose 
spouse figures in a trial of the year 1616, as noticed on a 
later page. 

The Act passed in the autumn of 1579, — which, however, 
did not come into force till 1st January 1580, — evidently 
made very little impression. For, in 1587, the Scottish 
Gypsies are still visible, living their old life. On 11th 
October of that year a proclamation was made at Holyrood- 
house " of a High Court of Justiciary to be held in his 
Majesty's [James the Sixth's] own presence, for trial of great 
crimes all over the realm." This was fixed for the 27th of 
November. It is stated in the proclamation that " his Majestie 
intendis to be present in his awne persoun in the try ale 
and punishment of sic enormiteis as cravis maist spedy refor- 
matioun : thay ar to say, murthour, slauchtar, fyreraising," and 
so on with a list, ending with " soirning [masterful begging], 
deforcementis of officiaris, forgeing, inbringing and outputting 
of fals cunyie [i.e. coin], witchecraft or seikaris of responssis 
or help at witcheis,^ caryaris of forbiddin guids furth of the 
realme, convocationis, and the wicked and counterfute theveis 
and lymmaris calling thame selffs Egiptianis." In the 
catalogue of " enormities " specified in the proclamation there 

^ " Birrel's Diary" ; in Dalyell's Fragments of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 
1798. - On a subsequent page will be cited an instance of an Aberdeen 
tailor who "confessed that he made inquiry at the Egj-ptians for a gentle- 
woman's gown which was stolen out of his booth," and who consequently 
had to undergo Church discipline " in respect of his consultation with witches." 
Both in that case, and in the above instance of Lady Fowlis, we have ilhis- 
trations of what was meant by " witchcraft or seekers of i espouses or help at 
witches." 



WITCHCRAFT IN 1588. 71 

are many which may not have been practised by Gypsies ; 
but some of those just quoted certainly were/ 

A witchcraft trial of the year 1588 contains what is 
evidently a casual Gypsy reference. The accused woman 
stated that she " learned her craft " from her kinsman a 
certain William Simpson, who was a native of the town of 
Stirling, and whose father was the king's smith. This 
William Simpson " was taken away from his father by a man 
of Egypt, a giant, being but a child, who had him away to 
Egypt with him, where he remained to the space of twelve 
years ere he came home again." She affirmed that he 
(Simpson) " was a great scholar and doctor of medicine," and 
that "soon after his home coming," he "healed her of her 
disease in Lothian, within the town of Edinburgh, where she 
repaired to him." ^ It may be added that Scott, in his 
Letters on Demonology (Letter V.), has no hesitation in 
explaining " a man of Egypt " as " a Gypsy." 

In spite of all these enactments authorising them to 
suppress, or even to extirpate the "Egyptians," the officers 
of the law still proved themselves unable or unwilling to 
grapple successfully with the difficulty. Eor tlie twelfth 
Parliament of James the Sixth, which met on 5th June 
1592, found it necessary to frame a statute " for remeid of 
the great contempt, disordour and wrang, quhilk lies bene 
in diverse partes of this realme, in default of keeping and 
execution of the gude lawes and actes of Parliament maid 
of before, be the Schireftes, and vtheris judges ordinar, their 
deputes and clerkes " ; and what these officials were then 

' 1 For the above, see pp. 217-18 of vol. iv. of the printed Jlcgistcr of the 
Privy Council of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1881. The same vohime has many 
references to "strong and idle wandering beggars," " sorners, brigands and 
masterful vagabon<ls," &c., &c. (pp. 283, 300, 302, 356, 758, and 759) ; and it 
is evident that Gypsies came under these denominations, and must have 

uffered under these laws, even if none had ever been specially enacted against 
Egyj)tians. Indeed, it is by no means unlikely that an immense number of 
unnoticed enactments were really directed more against Gypsies than against 
otherj non-Gy]isy olfenders. But in these pages our attention is chiefly 
confined to people who are distinctly styled " Egyptians" or " Gy])sies " ; 
because, as already stated, if we once assume that decrees passed against people 
bearing the characteristics of Gypsies were in all cases anti-Gypsy laws, then 
we should have to recognise the presence of Gypsies in Scotland at a date 
conaideraldy anterior to that in which they arc fast named. ^ Pitcairn's 

Crim. Trials, vol. i. Part II. pp. 162-63. 



72 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

commanded to do, " as they will answer to his Majesty at 
their peril," was to insure a thorough search for and appre- 
hension of all traitors, rebels, and vagrants of every 
description. And among these last were "the dissimulate 
thieves and abusers, calling themselves Egyptians." Further, 
another Act of the same Parliament, " for punishment of 
masterful beggars and relief of the poor," concludes thus : — 

" And for the better trial of common sorners, vagabonds, and 
masterful beggars ; feigned fools and counterfeit Egyptians : And 
to the effect that they may be still pursued until they be compelled 
to settle themselves at some certain dwelling, or be expelled forth 
from the country : That the sheriffs and other judges ordinary, 
and their deputies, and other justices and commissioners above 
specified, take inquisition by inquest, at the head courts yearly, of 
the names and tokens ^ of them ; And make denunciation of them 
to the next ordinary judges and parishes, in the four halves'- about : 
As also to our Sovereign Lord and his secret council, within forty 
days, after the said head courts, under the pain foresaid." 

It will be noticed that what was aimed at in the edict 

^ The word here used probably refers to the method by which the deserving 
poor (unable to support themselves) were distinguished from " idle beggars." 
The primitive form of " Poor Relief," which had long been in use in Scotland, 
consisted in the issue of metal badges, or tokens, by the local Sheriff or 
"headsman," to those leally deserving and needing succour. And the mode 
in which each parish settled its "Poor Tax " was by the formal recognition 
of the right of the holders of these badges to beg for aid from all those within 
the parish able to give it. A very instructive paper on this subject, by Mr J. 
Balfour Paul {Proceedings of the Society of AntiqiMries of Scotlaiul, 1886-87, 
pp. 169-79), mentions that the Act of 1424 — referred to above — provides for 
the issue of these tokens, as well as for the punishment of incorrigibly " idle 
men," who were not so distinguished. It ^vill thus be seen that, if the 
authorities exercised a proper discrimination, the possession or the absence of 
these badges at once marked out the "sheep" from the " goats. " And Mr 
Paul points out that at Ayr, in 1642, and at Kirkwall, Orkney, in 1674 (for 
which see also op. cit., 1885-86, pp. 173-74), when the practice was apparently 
falling into desuetude, an issue of these tokens was ordained, on account of 
the increasing number of "strangers and idle vagabonds," whom it was 
necessary to distinguish from those worthy of relief. But the reason for the 
reference in the above Act of 1592, would seem to be that some Gypsies had 
got over this difficulty b}' the simple process of making sjiurious tokens for 
themselves. Among the many people denounced by the Act of 1574 as " idle 
and strong beggars " are :^" all counterfeiters of licences to beg, or using of 
the same, knowing them to be counterfeited." Gypsies, notorious as 
counterfeiters of money, could hardly fail to provide themselves with these 
useful badges ; and indeed we have noticed (a7ite, p. 70), the trial of one 
famous Gypsy for " being art and part in forging and using a forged pass or 
certificate." - This curious expression was a conventional one, frequently 
encountered iu those old Acts. 



SUPPRESSION OF NOMADISM. 73 

just quoted, as in similar enactments before and after it, was 
not the suppression and expulsion of Gypsies as a race, but as 
people living an idle and vagrant life. As soon as a Gypsy 
" settled at some certain dwelling," and followed some 
recognised occupation, he ceased to be an offender in the 
eyes of the law. Some of the earlier edicts, no doubt, were 
much harsher ; but, by the end of the sixteenth century, the 
Gypsy was not of necessity condemned to banishment, or 
death, or (if a youth) to a form of slavery. Various special 
examples could be adduced showing that it was only the 
obdurate, irreclaimable Gypsy that these laws were directed 
against. A very striking instance of this truth — an almost 
grotesque instance — is afforded by the execution, at a later 
period (1770), of two notorious Gypsies. For the actual hang- 
man of the town (Linlithgow) was himself a Gypsy (as was also 
the paid minstrel or " piper " of the town).^ Conversely, as 
in the English instance of three yeomen who were " sentenced 
to be hanged ' because they had consorted for a month with 
Egyptians,' " ^ any citizen of previously good repute could 
render himself liable to the penalties meted out to Gypsies 
simply by following their mode of life. The prime offence, 
therefore, was that of roaming about the country, and living 
upon the goods of others, obtained from them by ordinary 
begging, by intimidation ("masterful begging"), or by 
downright violence and theft. 

The Burgh Eecords of Glasgow, which have already been 
quoted from, again (p. 182) give us a glimpse of Gypsies in that 
city ; for, under date 23d October 1596, we read that 

" In presens of the provest, bailleis and counsale, Agnes Brovne 
[Browne], ane of the cumpany of the Egipsianes, being taue and 
put in the stokis, and becaus iia thing was tane with hir wes 
releivitt." 

A brief enough notice, not clearly denoting whether this 
Agnes Brown was one of the company of the Eobert Baillie 
of 1579, though it is not unlikely she was. Brown and 
Baillie were both well-known surnames among the Scottish 
Gypsies, and they appear together in the following century. 

In 1597 it was deemed necessary to pass yet another Act 

^ See Sinison's History, \)\i. 124, note, and 136. ' Gyp. -Lore Soc. Jour., 
i. 1, p. 21. 



74 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

of Parliament, declaring that " strong beggars, vagabonds, and 
Egyptians should be punished." Here it will be seen that the 
King, or his advisers, had thought it essential to again assume 
an attitude of severity ; for the Act is in these terms : — 

"Our Sovereign Lord, and Estates of Parliament, ratify and 
approve the Acts of Parliament formerly made against strong and 
idle beggars, vagabonds, and Egyptians ; with this addition. That 
strong beggars and their children be employed in common [i.e. 
public] works ; and tlieir service, mentioned in the Act of Parlia- 
ment in the year of God one thousand tive hundred and seventy- 
nine years, to be prorogated during their whole life : And in place 
of several commission in landward to be granted by the King, for 
execution of the said Act, the power thereof to be granted to the 
particular Kirk-Session." 

Eeferring to this Act, Mr Walter Simson, in liis History 
of the Gypsies}- says : " By the above and subsequent statutes, 
in the reign of James VI., 'coal and salt-masters might ap- 
prehend and put to labour all vagabonds and sturdy beggars.' 
The truth is, these kidnapped individuals and their children 
were made slaves of to these masters. The colliers were 
emancipated only within these fifty years. It has been 
stated to me that some of the colliers in the I.othians are of 
Gypsy extraction." That all of them were so is not asserted, 
nor is it probable. Yet it is noteworthy that an Act 
" Anent Coalyiers and Salters " (18 James VI. c. 11) ordains 
that " any Salters, Coalyears or coal-bearers," applying for 
work to a new master " without ane sufficient testimoniall 
of their Maister whom they last served " shall be " esteemed, 
reput and halden as theiues." ^ 

The devolution of secular power to the inferior church 
courts or " kirk-sessions," is a notable feature of this Act ; 
although it was really only an enlargement of a clause in 
the Act of 1592, which authorised the " Ministers, Deacons, 
and Elders," to select deputy-sheriffs from among the local 
justices of the peace and commissioners, who would thereby 
have authority to enforce the Act. These substitutes were 
to be thus elected in the event of the proper officials being 
" found remiss or neglicjent." 

^ Page 111, note. - The anomalous position of those Scottish serfs of the 
eighteenth century aroused the indignation of Hugh Miller, whose remarks 
are also quoted by Mr Simson {History, pp. 121-22, note). 



PEXAL SERVITUDE IX THE PAST, iO 

But, of course, the most important announcement in the 
Act is the declaration that the temporary serfdom to wliich 
former statutes had condemned incorrigible " sturdy beggars " 
and their children, should henceforth be extended to a life- 
long slavery. Still, although the term " slavery " expresses 
correctly enough the position of these convicted Gypsies, we 
should only imperfectly grasp the situation if we did not 
also understand that this was at the same time an earlier 
form of the sentence of " penal servitude for life," This is 
clearly illustrated by the case of a " thief " named Alexander 
Stewart, who was condemned to death at Perth in 1701, but 
whose sentence was afterwards commuted to " perpetual 
servitude." He was thereupon " gifted by the justiciars as 
a perpetual servant to Sir John Areskine of Alva," in whose 
service he presumably ended his days. (See Dr Daniel 
Wilson's Prehistoric Annals of Scotland.') Thus, a "per- 
petual servant " of those days resembled a well-conducted 
convict in our " Botany Bay " period, who similarly worked 
for another ; and it may safely be assumed that this kind of 
" servitude," of whatever period, was generally accepted as 
preferable to death, and was certainly preferable to a lifelong 
imprisonment in " the hulks," or " the galleys," or in any 
of the great convict prisons. 

What appears to be the first Scottish instance of the 
abbreviated form of " Egyptian " occurs in the year 1598. 
In that year a certain Mr John Nicolson of Lasswade, 
" one of the commissaries of Edinburgh " laid a formal 
" Complaint " before the Privy Council against James 
Bellenden of Pendreich, who had long nourished a feeling of 
animosity towards him, which had recently taken an active 
form. It is stated that the minister of Lasswade had, in 
the character of peacemaker, invited Nicolson and Bellenden 
to dine with him on the third of October, and on that 
occasion the latter pretended to renounce his former enmity. 
But when — two hours after Mr Bellenden had taken his 
leave — Mr Nicolson and his servant approached the Bridge 
of Lasswade, they encountered Mr Bellenden's son Hew, 
" being accumpaneid with certane gipseis and divers utheris 
at ane house on the south syde of the said Brigcnd of Les- 
suaid." Acting, it was alleged, according to his father's 



76 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

wishes, this Hew Bellenden, " hoiping that the rest of his 
cumpany sould have followit him efter he had begun the 
bergane," advanced upon Mr Nicolson and his servant with 
drawn sword, and, in the sHght struggle that followed, suc- 
ceded in inflicting a wound upon his father's adversary. 
Nothing further is recorded of the Gypsies, who, with the 
rest of young Bellenden's followers, seem to have taken no 
part in the affair. The glimpse we have of them, however, 
shows them to us, not as hunted outcasts, but as among the 
adherents of a gentleman of good family. And this within 
a few miles of the Scottish capital, and in spite of the many 
laws previously passed for the complete efiacement of the 
" Egyptians." 



CHAPTEE VII I. 

YET another Act " anent strong and idle beggars " was 
passed in the year 1599 ; and it was followed by a 
"Ratification" of it in 1600. Although the Gypsies are not 
specially named therein, the terms used ^ leave no doubt that 
they constituted a portion, if not the chief portion, of the 
class legislated against. 

" An unfortunate hiatus in the preserved series of volumes 
containing the original JNIinutes of the main proceedings of 
the [Privy] Council," prevents us from ascertaining the 
precise terms of an Act of that body " made'ln the mouth of 
June, or thereby, in the year of God 1603, and Proclamation 
following thereupon," by which all who lived the life of 
Gypsies ^ were given the alternative of banishment or death. 
But as an Act of Parliament, ratifying this Privy Council 
edict, was passed in 1609, the terms of the enactment of 1603 
will be seen in this subsequent Act which confirms it. 

The Gypsies, however, neither chose the one alternative 
nor the other, but continued to defy the law in the same 
fashion as formerly. Such a succession of adverse laws 
could not, of course, fail to affect them to some extent ; but, 
as before, they are found incidentally named, as in such 
cases as the "Lady Foulis" reference of 1577, and the 
Lasswade quarrel of 1598, in circumstances which seem to 
denote that although every " Egyptian " was under the ban 
of the law, yet that did not very greatly affect his daily life, 
or threaten to cut short his existence altogether. 

Nevertheless, the last quarter of the sixteenth, and the 

^ "Strong and idle beggars, being for the most part tliievcs, bards, and 
counterfeit limmers [rogues], living most insolently and ungodly," &c. 
2 For it is evident one ought not to read literally the declaration tliat all 
those who " are called, known, reputed, and held as Egyptians " come within 
the meaning of the Act. 



78 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

first quarter of the seventeenth century is a period more 
adverse to the Gypsies, by reason of its stern and continuous 
anti-Gypsy legislation, than any period before or since. 
And this seems in a great measure due to the personal 
influence of James VI. of Scotland (now attaining the zenith 
of his power as James I. of Great Britain and Ireland ^) ; a 
monarch who, in spite of his pedantry and other faults, 
thoroughly realised his duty of bringing the whole United 
Kingdom into a state of order and civilisation. 

Among the " heads or titles of Acts or Decrees " which are 
"entered collectively under date September 1604," in the 
Minute Book of Processes, which helps to fill in the un- 
fortunate blank in the Privy Council Eegister of 1603-6, is 
the following : — " Letters : the Captan of the Guard against 
the magistrattis of Forfar for wrongous taking of Hary Fall, 
ane egiptian, off his hand."^ ISTo further information as to 
this incident appears to be obtainable from this source. 

In 1605, two of the Commissioners appointed by King 
James to inquire into and settle the disorders in the 
" Middle Shires " of Great Britain (as the King now desig- 
nated what were formerly the Border counties of two 
antagonistic countries), reported to the Scottish Privy 
Council that, among other things, " the Commissioners made 
a proclamation against ' all vagaboundis that had no lauch- 
full nor certane trade, and speciallie of that sorte callit 
Egiptianes, with certificatioun that quhaever ressavit thame 
within thair boundis (becaus thair bant [resort] wes ordinarlie 
grit in these boundis^), sould not onlie be thocht culpable 
of thair stouthis [thefts], bot farther comptable for quhat- 
somever could be provin wanting in ony of the boundis 
adjacent thairto during the tyme of thair ressait,* and xxiiii 
houris befoir the same, and als lang efter thair departour 
thairfra, by and attour [beyond] the punischment of the 

^ By the death of his cousin, Queen Elizabetli, in 1603, James VI, of 
Scotland fell heir to the sovereignty of England and Ireland, and thus united 
the whole British Islands under one monarchy. ^ Eegkter of the Privy 
Council of Scotland, as printed and published in Edinburgh, vol. vii. p. 15. 
^ The Borders of England and Scotland had for centuries formed a " debate- 
able" or "no-man's land," and partly for this reason, partly because of the 
safe retreat afforded by its numerous " wastes," this territory was admirably 
suited as a refuge for people who were banned by the laws of both England 
and Scotland. ■* See remarks on pp. 88-96, post. 



THE CRIME OF HARBOURING GYPSIES. 79 

ressettaris bodyis, and fjnuing [fining] of thame in thair 
guidis and geir, according to thair estate and moyane."^ 

It has been noticed that the Acts of 1592 and 1597 de- 
legated a certain amount of secular power to the minor 
Church Courts, or " Kirk-Sessions " in the matter of the 
" Egyptians," This is to some extent illustrated by the 
following extract from the Eecords of the " Presbytery " of 
Aberdeen — a Court superior to the " Kirk-Session " : — 
" 2Sth Ajyril 1608. 

"The quhilk day, anent citatione rasit and execute against the 
personis under wreitten, videlicet, Dauid Gray, in the Lyn, Alex- 
ander Abirdene, in Brotherfield, Alexander Andersone, at the Walk 
Mylne of Drum, Alexander Craig in Quhobbis, Jonet Gordon, wyf 
of Dauid Bell, quha being callit, compeirit the said Dauid Graye, 
Alexander Abirdene, and confessit simpliciter the recept of the 
Egyptiance within thair houssis, gave thame harbrie and intertenea- 
ment of meat and drink for thair monee ; and the presbyterie 
ordenit the said Dauid Gray and Alexander Abirdene to pay ilk ane 
of thame tua markis monee in penaltie, and to mak thair repent- 
ance befoir the pulpet on their kneis, and that on Sondaye cum 
aucht dayes, onder the panes of the censuris of the kirk. And as 
for Alexander Andersone, he confessit lykwayes thair recept, and 
allegit he did nocht [nothing] without a warrand and commande- 
ment of the Larde and Ladie of Drum,^ quhilk the presbyterie 
ordenit him to i^roduce in wreitt befoir thame the nixt day of the 
exercise : with certificatioune, and he succumbit, that they wald 
decerne in the penaltie and I'epentance as the said Dauid Gray and 
Alexander Abirdene."^ 

However, although the fine of two marks apiece was a 
punishment of a distinctly secular character, it is evident 
that the offence was primarily one against religion. It does 
seem curious to the modern mind that to supply meat and 
drink to Gypsies, in return for money paid down by them, 
constituted an actual sin, demanding repentance and humilia- 
tion. But it must be remembered that Gypsies were then 
regarded as " witches" (as the same locality shows to us 
some years later*), and that anything tliat tended to encourage 
" witchcraft " was a religious ofi'ence. 

The month of June 1609 is famous as the date of the 

1 Pricy Council Hegistcr, ut siqna, p. 713. ^ Alexander Irvine of Drum, 
and his wife, Lady Marion Douglas, daughter of tlie Earl of Huclian. ^ SrAcc- 
ti 0)18 from Ecclesiastical Records of Aberdeen, 1562-1681 : Aberdeen (printed 
for the Spalding Club), 1846, pp. 200-201. * In January 1619 (see p. 79, 
yost). 



80 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Act which ratified the Privy Council edict of 1603 ; and 
upon it the future Gypsy prosecutions were based. With 
regard to these two edicts Baron Hume observes, op. cit, p. 
472 : — " A few years after, this proclamation [that of 1603] 
was converted into a perpetual law, by statute 1609, c. 13 ; 
which bore this further convenient, but very severe provision 
towards the more effectual execution of the order, that it 
should be lawful to condemn and execute them to the death, 
on proof made to this effect only, ' that they are called, known, 
repute and holden Egyptians.' " The Act runs as follows : — 

"Act anent the Egiptiaj^s. 

"OvR SovERAiGNE LoRD and Estates of Parliament Ratifies, 
approues and perpetuallie confirmes tlie act of Secreet Councell 
made in the moneth of Tune or therby 1603 years, and proclamation 
following ther-vpon : Commanding the vagabounds, sorners, and 
common thiefes commonlie called Egiptians, to passe forth of this 
Kingdome, and remaine perpetuallie forth therof, and never to 
returne within the samin, vnder the paine of death, and that the 
samin haue force and execution after the first day of August next 
to come. After the whilk tyme if any of the saids vagabounds, 
called Egiptians, als well wemen as men, shal be found within this 
Kingdome or any part thereof ;i it shall be lesome to all his Majes- 
ties good subjects, or any ane of them, to cause take, apprehend, 
imprison, and execute to death the saids Egiptians, either men or 
wemen, as common, notorious and condemned theifes, by ane assyse 
onely to be tryed, that they are called, knawn, reput and halden 
Egiptians. In the whilk cause, whasoever of the assyse happins to 
clenge [exculpate] any of the foresaids persons, Egiptians pannelled 
[accused], as said is, shall be persewed, handled and censured as 
committers of wilfull error. And whasoever shall at any tyme 
therafter reset, receaue, supplie or intertein any of the saids 
Egiptians, either men or wemen, shall tyne [lose] their escheat, and 
be warded at the Judges will. And that the Schirefs and Magistrats 
in whais bounds they shall publictlie and avowedlie resort and 
remaine, be called before the Lords of his Heighnes Secreet Councell, 
and sevearlie censured and punished for their negligence in execu- 
tion of this act. Discharging all letters, protections and warrants 
whatsomever i^urchassed by the saids Egiptians or any of them 
from his Majestie or Lords of Secreet Councell, for their remaining 
within this Eealme as surreptitiouslie and deceatfullie obteined by 
their knawledge. Annulling also all warrants purchased or here- 
after to be purchased by any subject of whatsomever ranke within 

^ This ouly refers to the kingdom of Scotland ; for, although the Crowns of 
England and Scotland had been united in 1603, the two Parliaments were not 
amalgamated till the j'ear 1707. 



MOSES FAW'S SUPPLICATION. 81 

this Kingdome for their reset, interteining or doing any manner of 
favour to the saids Egiptians at any tyme after the said first day of 
August next to come for now and ever." 

An incident of this same year (1609), which indeed was 
occasioned by the Act itself, shows us clearly that the 
antipathy to the Gypsies was not due to their race hut to 
their habit of life, and that it was open at any time for a 
Gypsy to cease from " being a Gypsy," and to become a loyal 
and law-abiding subject. The individual who exemplifies 
this was a certain Moses Faw, who after the passing of this 
severe anti-Egyptian Act appealed to the Privy Council, 
claiming exemption therefrom. The incident is thus sum- 
marised in the printed Register of the Privy Coimcil : ^ — 

" Supplication by Mosie Faw, as follows : — He is informed that 
in the last Parliament an Act was passed ordaining Egyptians to 
leave this realm within a certain time under jDain of deatli, with 
power to any of the lieges to apprehend and slay all Egyptians after 
the day foresaid. Now, though the said Act was ' most lauchfullie 
and worthelie set doun aganis these infamous thevis and lymmaris 
who undir the counterfute name of Egiptianis commitis sa mony 
villanyis in the cuntrey,' jietitioner ' is sure that the Estaitis of 
Parliament had nevir ony purpois or intentioun that the said Act 
sould ressave executioun aganis honnest, lauchfull, and trew 
personis'; and, as he himself ' disdanis and detestis the thevishe 
forme of doing of that infamous societie,' and has withdrawn him- 
self and his wife and children from them, and as ' his birth, educa- 
tioun, and residence hes bene in this kingdome, quhair, gif it micht 
please God, he wald fane spend the rest of his dayis in the estate 
and conditioun of a quiet, modest, trew, and humble subject,' and 
as he has found caution [surety] in £1000 to obey the laws, appear 
before the Council as often as he may lie required on ten days' 
warning, and not reset or have dealings, or allow his family to have 
dealings, with the Egyptians, he humbly prays that he may be 
allowed to remain in this country. The Lords, finding his prayer 
reasonable, accept the caution offered, and grant the required 
licence." 

The person who thus became security for " Mosie Faw " 
was a landed gentleman of the east of Scotland, David 
Lindsay of Quarrelhill ; and the head of the Lindsay family, 
David, Earl of Crawfiird, became " surety in relief."^ 

^ Vol. viii. p. 372. - Oj). cit., yi. 712. "The baiul [Vioinl] registered by- 
Mr David I'ryinrois, advocate, is suliscrilied at the Cannongait, 11th November, 
before William Lyoun, AloxauJer Liiid.say, and Gilbert Kyinl, servitors to the 
said Earl, and Alexander Wylie, servitor to James Prymrois, clerk of f 'ouncil." 

F 



82 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

In spite, however, of all these solemn protestations, it is 
evident that this Moses Faw was an irreclaimable Gypsy. 
For, altliough it was only in November 1609 that he had 
given his bond for good behaviour, we find the following 
item among the memoranda for the month of April 1611 in 
the Minute Booh of Processes : " Proces : [King's] Advocatt 
against Mossie Faw for banting with Egiptians."^ And to 
what extent he had " disdained the thievish form of doing 
of that infamous society " may be seen from the statements 
made at a meeting of the Privy Council two months later. 
At its session held at Edinburgh on 27th June 1611, the 
Privy Council granted a commission to the Selkirkshire 
justices against " Mosie Faw " and his companions. This is 
the summarised statement in the printed volume of the 
Register? 

" Mosie Faw and a number more of the ' counterfoote lymmaris 
callit the Egiptianis ' having, for fear of punishment for their 
thievish doings, retired to the shire of Selkirk, where they not only 
commit reifs [robberis] and other villanies, but even attack the 
lieges with hagbuts and pistolets when opposed, and there being 
encouragement to them to continue in their wickedness 'in respect 
of the oversicht quhilk thay haif of the judges and magistratis of 
the cuntrey,' who pretend want of warrant in excuse for not appre- 
hending them, commission, subscribed as above,^ is given to the 
Justices of Peace within the said shire to convocate tlie lieges in 
arms for apprehending and keeping them in ward till they are tried 
by an assize and punished with death." 

That the instructions contained in this commission were 
very speedily and effectually carried out is certain. For, on 
31st July 1611, "Moyses Fa, Dauid Fa, Eobert Fa, and 
Johnne alias Willie Fa, Egiptians," were brought to trial at 
Edinburgh " for abyding and remaining within this king- 
dome, they being Egiptianis ; contrair the tennour of the 
Actis of Parliament." The indictment against them begins 
by reciting the Act of 1609, and proceeds to say : " Xever- 
theless, ye and each one of you being vagabonds, sorners, 
common thieves, repute, called, and held [as] Egyptians" 
have " remained within this kingdom, in contempt of the 

1 Privy Council Register, vol. ix. p. 171. ^ Op. cit,, p. 205. ^ That is, by 
these Privy Councillors "the Chancellor, Cassillis, Lynlj'thgow, Lothiaue, 
Blantyre, Balfour, and Alexander Hay." 



FOUR FAWS SENTENCED TO DEATH, 1611. 83 

said Act of Parliament, and are notoriously known to be 
Egyptians, and so reputed and held. And therefore ye and 
each one of you ought to be demanit to the death, and suffer 
the pains thereof." There is here no distinction between 
Moses and the other Faws ; and all are alike notorious 
vagabonds, thieves, and Gypsies. 

In his defence Moses Faw produced the licence granted 
to him by the Privy Council in 1609 ; which was accepted 
by the King's Advocate, " m quantum." The King's 
Advocate goes on to allege that the conditions specified in 
the licence were " in no wise kept " by the accused ; whose 
surety^ had failed to appear before the Council, and, having 
also failed to pay the penalty of a thousand pounds, had 
been declared an outlaw. And therefore, on account of the 
non-payment of the penalty, "as also in respect that the 
conditions specified in the licence are not kept, the said 
Moses Faw has fallen under the danger of the said Act of 
Parliament, and the pain of death inflicted upon him." The 
Advocate further declares " the remanent persones, his 
complices," as equally guilty of death, in terms of the Act, 
" and protests for Wilful Error against the Assize, if they 
acquit, according to the said Act." He produces also the 
Act of Council against Moses Faw's surety, making him an 
outlaw, and he repeats the deposition of a certain " James 
Ballache," " testifying the said Moses being in company and 
society with the Egyptians, and of his giving bond to the 
said James, for redressing of divers thefts." 

The Assize unanimously pronounced all of the accused to 
be " notoriously known to be Egyptians, at the least so 
reputed and held"; and they were accordingly sentenced 
" to be taken to the Burghmuir of Edinburgh, and there to 
be hanged till they were dead : And all their moveable 
goods and gear pertaining to them to be escheated and 
brouf^ht in to our Sovereign Lord's use."^ 

From the statement made by an eminent lawyer of the 

^ The Earl of Crawfiiril, who was "surety in relief," was himself at one 
time outlaweil for his insurrection, with other Catliolic nobles (Huntly and 
Errol), in 1588 ; and liis character was altogether removed from that of a 
peaceable subject. The actual surety, Mr Lindsay, was evidently a cadet of 
the house of Crawfurd. ^ For the above account, see Pitcairn's Criminal 
Trials, iii. 201-2. 



84 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

latter part of the same century/ it would appear that this 
sentence was carried into effect on the same day. As this 
was, according to Baron Hume, " the first trial that took place 
on the statute " of 1609, it was in all respects notable. 

This year was an unfortunate one for the Faw family. For 
we find that on 27th September 1611, hardly two mouths 
after the doom pronounced against Moses Faw and his friends, 
the Privy Council granted a commission of justiciary against 
" Captain " Harry Faw and other Gypsies. The statement 
in the printed Register " is as follows : — 

"The 'counterfoote thevis' called the Egyptians, having been 
by diverse Acts ordained to depart this realm under pain of death, 
but, although the term of their departure is now long past. Captain 
Harie Faw, James Faw, his son, and a number of vagabonds, men 
and women, ' falslie calling thamselffis Egyptianis,' still remaining 
in this realm, wandering through all parts thereof at their pleasure, 
and committing reifs and other ' insolencyis ' on good subjects, and 
' abusing the simple ones with telling of dreames and foi'tounis, and 
utheris foleyis nawyse suft'erable in a Christeane commounwele,' 
commission under the signet, subscribed by the Chancellor, Glen- 
carne, Lotheane, Glasgow, Blantyre, and Lord Scone, is given to 
Sir James Erskin to apprehend the said Egyptians, put them to 
the knowledge of an assize, and minister justice on them conform 
to the laws." 

This " Captain Harry Faw " is probably the same person 
as " Hary Fall, ane egiptian," casually noticed as having been 
" wrongously taken " by the magistrates of Forfar in 1603 or 
1604 The name " Henry " was evidently long borne by 
representatives of one line of the Faw, or Fall, descent ; as 
we read that, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, 
there was a noted Gypsy of the south of Scotland known as 
" Henry Faa." ^ 

This " Commission of Justiciary " was only one of several 
indications that this year was one of renewed activity in the 

^ Sir George Mackenzie : Laws and Customs, <i:c., Edinburgh, 1678, p. 318. 
By a slip of the pen this writer styles the Gypsy " Moses Shaio" ; but this 
may be accounted for by the fact that he had acted as King's Advocate in the 
prosecution and conviction of four Gypsy Shaivs in the beginning of the year 
ivhen his Laics and Customs was publislied. ^ Vol. ix. p. 256. ^ A writer 
of 1774 observes :^" I am most credibly informed that [he] was received, and 
ate at the tables of people in public office, and that men of considerable 
fortune paid him a gratuity, called blackmail, in order to have their goods 
protected from thieves." {Shnson' s Ristonj, p. 237 ; quoted from Euddiman's 
Weekly Magazine, 4th August 1774.) 



ANTI-GYPSY ENACTMENTS, 1611-1617. 85 

anti- Gypsy crusade. To enforce still further the powers 
previously granted, the Privy Council had, on 25th July 
1611, included the following among their " Eegulations con- 
cerning the Constables " : — 

" Constablis sail stay and arreist all vagabundis, sturdie beggaris, 
and Egiptianis, and carye thame befoir the nixt Commissionaris of 
Peace, who sail tak ordour for their committing or punishement 
according to the statute of Parliament." ^ 

The Justices of Peace were at the same time directed to 
" put to due and full execution " the Acts of Parliament 
" against masterful beggars and vagabonds, solitary and idle 
men and women lurking in alehouses, tied to no certain 
service, designed, reputed, and held as vagabonds." Their 
attention is also drawn to the existence of " sundry unnecessary 
alehouses in the country, which are the receipt of sundry 
raasterless men and rebels at the horn [i.e. outlawed], and 
other persons guilty of divers crimes, and are the chief est 
occasion of the stouths, reifs, and pickery [robberies and thefts] 
committed, as well in the day as' night, upon his Majesty's 
good subjects travelling in the country " ; and the justices 
are authorised to " take order " with such houses. (To such 
" unnecessary alehouses " as these belonged the " Mumps Ha " 
described by Sir Walter Scott in Ghi]/ Mannering, and the 
" tinkler howffs " mentioned in the pages of Simson.) 

These " Articles and Instructions " were subsequently 
ratified (28th June 1617) by an Act "Anent the Justices 
for keeping the Kings Majesty's Peace, and their Con- 
stables." ^ The section (VII.) of this Act, which repeats the 
above-quoted directions to Justices with regard to " solitary 
and idle men and women lurking in alehouses," who were 
" reputed and held as vagabonds," adds this clause : " and 
against those persons who are commonly called Egyptians." 
This clause, apparently omitted as unnecessary in the 
instructions of 1611, left the Gypsies no possible pretext 
for claiming exemption. Nevertheless, what has been 
previously said as to the important fact that the Gypsy life 
and not tlie Gypsy race was what the law abhorred, receives 
a fresh illustration from the consideration of this particular 
detail. Because, Gypsies themselves were frequently chosen 

^ Privy Council Rrjjidcr, vol. ix. p. 226. ^ And also by an Act of 16G1. 



86 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

as constables.^ Thus, veritable Gypsies might be town- 
minstrels, executioners, and constables, and, instead of being 
under the ban of the law, help rather to enforce it. More- 
over, besides these special appointments, it was at all times 
open to Gypsies to abandon their idle and wandering ways, 
and to settle down in a certain place, in some authorised 
mode of life. 

On the other hand, any person might come perilously near 
being pronounced a "Gypsy," simply by associating with 
recognised Gypsies. For example, among the Gypsy 
incidents of the first decade of the seventeenth century is 

the trial of " Elizabeth Warrok, dochter of AVarrok, 

in the Potterrow,"^ which took place on 30th November 1610. 
This woman was not only charged with being " ane cowmone 
ressetter of Thift," and as having taken active part in a 
specified act of theft, but also with being " ane cowmone 
Vagabund and follower of the Gipseis, and taking pairt with 
thame in all thair thiftis and juglareis this ten yeir bygane, 
contrair the Actis of Parliament." She was " convicted of 
the said crimes," and sentenced to be scourged through 
Edinburgh and banished therefrom, and never after to be 
found within four miles of the city, under the pain of death 
by drowning, " without further doom or law to be held or 
pronounced against her." ^ 

It will be noticed that this woman was only charged with 
being a " follower " and accomplice of Gypsies, and not as 
herself a Gypsy (i.e. a nomadic Gypsy). If such a charge 
could have been proved against her, the sentence would 
have been death, without any reservation, according to the 
terms of the Act of Parliament of 1609. 

The trial of a party of Paws at the Sheriff- Court held at 
Scalloway, Shetland, on 22d August 1612, has already been 
noticed in our pages. They are described as " Johne Paw, 
elder, callit mekill Johne Paw, Johne Paw younger, calit 
Littill Johne Paw, Katherin Paw, spous to umquhill [i.e. the 
late] Murdo Brown, Agnes Paw, sister to the said Litill Johne." 

1 Simson's History, pp. 343 and 348. - A street in Edinburgh, then 
outside the city walls. The name " Potterrow " is suggestive ; for potters, 
or " muggers," and tinklers, faivs, and Gijpsies, were once almost synonymous 
terms, ^ Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, iii. 99. 



ELSPETH MAXWELL AND HER SONS. 87 

Exactly a year afterwards (6th August 1613), we find 
that the Register of the Privy Council ^ records a " Commis- 
sion under the Signet, signed by Jo. Prestoun, Sir T. 
Hammyltoun, and J. Cockburne, to the provost and bailies 
of Striviling [Stirling], to try Elspett Maxwell, alleged 
natural sister to the Laird of Newai'k [Patrick Maxwell of 
Newark], and James and Alexander Fae, her sons, thievish 
vagabonds and ' Egipteanes.' " 

^ Vol. X. of the abridged edition, Edinburgh, 1891, p. 132. 



CHAP TEE IX. 

THE sin of " resetting " (that is, of harbouring or giving 
" receipt " to) the Gypsies, was specially struck at in 
the Act of 1609, as it had been by the Commissioners 
appointed to regulate the Borders of England and Scotland 
in 1605. The following extract from Mr Simsou's pages 
states the matter clearly and concisely : — 

"On the 14th [read 4th] July 1616, the Sheriff of Forfar is 
severely reprimanded for delaying to execute some Gipsies, who 
had been taken within his jurisdiction, and for troubling the 
council with petitions in their behalf. In November following 
apiiears a proclamation against Egyptians and their resetters. In 
December 1619, we find another proclamation against resetters of 
them ; in April 1620, another proclamation of the same kind, and 
in July 1620, a commission against resetters, all with very severe 
penalties." (Mr Simson conchides by saying that "the nature of 
these Acts will be better understood" from an extract which he 
makes from the statute of 1616, quoted at length in the present 
chapter, pp. 94-96).^ 

Those Gypsies, for befriending whom the Sheriff' of Forfar 
was " severely reprimanded " in July 1616, were the band of 
John Faw, evidently the same that had brought trouble upon 
a landed gentleman of that neighbourhood in the previous 
year. For, on 25th January 1615, a certain Mr William 
Auchterlony of Cainiy was " dilaitit " before the Justice- 
Depute at Edinburgh " for contravening the Actis of 
Parliament in resetting of Egiptianis ; speciallie of Johnne 
Fall, ane notorious Egiptian and Chiftane of that vnhappie 
soirt of people." A neiglibour of the accused, Mr David 
Lindsay of Balgavies, appeared as his representative, and 

^ Simson's History of the Gipsies, pp. 113-14. The above extract is itself 
taken ivom. Blackuood's Magazine for 1817; "the conductor of which," says 
Mr Simson, "seems to have been careful in examining the public records for 
the documents quoted by him, having been guided in his researches, I believe, 
by Sir Walter Scott." 



LORD GRAY AND THE GYPSIES. 89 

explained that his principal was " lyand bedfast and deidlie 
seik, nocht habill to travell to keip this dyet." The laird 
of Balgavies therefore became surety for the due appearance 
of the accused, on the occasion of the next circuit of the 
Lord Justice in that part of the country.^ But this was 
rendered unnecessary by " a remission under the privy seal, 
granted to William Auchterlony of Cayrine [Cairny], for 
resetting of John Faw and his followers," which was granted 
to him in the very next month. To this statement Mr 
James Simson adds the following interesting note •} — 

" The nature of this crime in Scotch law is fully explained in 
the following extract from the original, which also appears curious 
in other respects. The pardon is gi'anted 'pi'o receptione, sujd- 
portatioue, et detentione supra terras suas de Belmadie, et infra 
eius habitationis domum, aliaq. edificia eiusdem, Joannis Fall, 
Ethiopis, lie [i.e. in common speech] Egi})tian, eiusq. uxoris, 
puerorum, servorum et associatorum ; Necnon pro ministrando 
ipsis cibum, potum, pecunias, hospicium, aliaq. necessaria, quocunq. 
tempore vel occasione preterita, contra acta nostri Parliamenti vel 
secreti concilii, vel contra quecunq. leges, alia acta, aut constitu- 
tiones huius nostri regni ScotijB in conti-arium facta. — Regist. 
Secreti Sigilli, vol. Ixxxiii. fol. 291, Blackwood's Magazine." 

At Elgin, also, on the 6th of May 1620, an official of the 
Duke of Lennox, " by vertue of my patent, given by the 
Counsell, to grant remistiouns to all guilty persouns who 
have reset the Egyptians," granted such a remission to 
another landed gentleman, Alexander Gordon of Sidray.^ 

But the Sheriff of Forfar who, with his deputies, had got 

into trouble over John Faw, or Fall, and his band, in the 

summer of 1616, was no less a person than Andrew, eighth 

Lord Gray, in whose family the Slieriffship of Forfar had 

been liereditary for many generations. The Gypsies appear 

to have been apprehended by the local justices of the peace, 

and by them consigned to the prison at Dundee. Thereafter 

the Lords of the Privy Council issued a " Commission under 

the Signet, signed by the Chancellor, Sanctandrois [the 

Bishop of St Andrews], Ja., Bishop of Glasgow, [Lord] 

Binning, and A. Dnunmond [Sir Alexander Drummond of 

Medhope], to the Slieriff of Forfar and his deputies, to try 

certain common thieves, called ' Egiptianis,' now in custody 

^ Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, iii. 307-8. "^History, p. 113. ^ Social Life 
in Former Days, 2d Series, by Caiitain Dunbar, 1866, p. 128. 



90 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

in the Tolbooth of Dundie for contravening the Act of 
Parliament of 24th June 1609, by not departing from the 
reahn. ' If it be fundin and tiyit be the assyse that they ar 
callit, knawin, repute and haldin Egiptianis, that our saidis 
justiceis pronunce sentence of death, and cans the same be 
execute upoun twa of the principalHs of the men, and twa of 
the principallis of the women ; and that they pronunce 
sentence of banishment aganis the remanent of thame, and 
cans thame be scourgit throw oure burgh of Dundie.' " ^ 

This Commission is undated, but as it is referred to in a 
" Charge " by the Privy Council, dated 4th July 1616, it was 
obviously issued before that date. It was because Lord 
Gray had failed to obey the orders in his " Commission " 
that the Privy Council found it necessary to issue the 
" Charge " of 4th July ; and as the latter edict is very 
instructive, it may be well to quote it here in full, as it 
appears in the Register.^ 

" Sederunt — Chancellor ; Bishop of Sanctandrois ; Bishop of 
Glasgow ; Mar ; Scone ; Bugcleugh ; Binning ; Master of 
Elphinstoun ; Privy Seal ; Treasurer Depute ; Justice Clerk; 
Advocate ; Kilsythe ; Medope ; Sir Andro Ker ; Sir Peter 
Young ; Sir James Skeene ; Mr Peter Rollok. 

"Forsamekle as, a nomber of the counterfute theWs, vagaboundis, 
and lym maris, callit the Egiptianes, being tane and apprehendit 
be the justiceis of peace within the boundis of Angus [i.e. Forfar- 
shire], and be thame enterit in wairde within the tolbuithe of 
Dundie, and, informatioun thairof being maid to the Lordis of 
Previe Counsall, they past and exped ane commissioun to 
Lord Gray, schiref principal! of Forfar, and his deputis, within 
quhais boundis and office the saidis counterfaite theives and 
Ijnumaris remainit, for putting of thame to the knawledge of ane 
assyse and ministring of justice upoun thame in maner specifiet in 
the said commissioun, the execution quhairof hes hithertillis bene 
postponit be the said Lord Gray and his deputis upoun 

some frivolous and impertinent resonis, pretextis, and excuisis 
pretendit be thame, sua that the saidis lymmaris ar \)\itt in lioip 
of imjounitie and favour, and the magistratis of the burgh of 
Dundie ar troublit and weireit with the keiping and enterteyning 
of thame, — Thairfore the Lordis of Secreit Counsaill ordanis letteris 
to be direct chairgeing the said schiref of Forfair and his deputis 
to put the saidis tlieivis and lymmairis to the knawledge of ane 
assyse, and to proceid and minister justice uj^oun thame, conforme 

^ Register of the Privy Council, vol. x., Edinburgh, 1891 p. 559. " Ibid., 
p. 556. 



TRIAL OF JOHN FAW AND OTHERS IN 1616, 91 

to the comniissioun grantit to thame for that effect, within clayis 
nixt, after they be chairgeit thairto, under the pane of rebellioun 
and putting of thame to the horne,^ or ellis that they compeir 
personallie befoir the saidis Lordis upoun the day of and 

bring, j^resent, and exhibite with thame the saidis counterfoote 
the vis and lymmaris, to the effect the saidis Lordis may gife ordour 
and directioun for thair punishement as accordis, with certifica- 
tioun to the said schiref and his deputeis, and they failye,^ letteris 
salbe direct simpliciter to put thame to the home." 

The effect of this " Charge " is seen in the fact that, 
twelve days later, a representative of Lord Gray " exhibited" 
four Egyptians before the Privy Council, who thereupon or- 
dained them " to be presented to an assize." ^ And three days 
afterwards, on 19th July 1616, their trial took place. From 
the following account, extracted fromPitcairn's Criminal Trials 
(iii. 397), it will be seen that only one of their " principal 
women" had been selected as a victim: — 

"Jul. 19. — JoHNNE Faa, Egiptiane ; James Faa, his sone ; 
Moyses Bailzie, Egiptiane ; and Helene Broun, spous to Williame 
Bailzie, Egiptiane. 

" Dilaitit of contravening of the Act of Parliament, maid in 
anno 1609 yeiris, in thair contemptuous repairing to this cuntrie, 
being repute and haldin to be Egiptianis, and abiding thairintill, 
nochtwithstanding thairof, &c., viz. 

" DiTTAY against Johnne Faa, etc. 

" FoRSAMEKiLL AS, be Act of Parliament, haldin at Edinburgh, 
vpone the xxiiij day of Junij, I'"Vj'^ and nyne zeiris, it is expresslie 
jDrovydit, statute, and ordanit, that all Vagabundis, Soirneris, and 
cowmone Thevis, cowmonlie callit Egiptianis, sould depairt furth 
of the kingdome, and remane perpetuallie furth thairof ; and nevir 
to haif returnet agane within the samyn, nor be fund thairintill, 
eftir the first day of August thaireftir, in the foirsaid zeir of God 
jmyjc and nyne zeiris, vnder the pane of deid : and that it sould be 
liesum to all liis Maiesteis guid subiectis, or ony ane of thame, to 
laus tak, apprehend, imprissone, and execute to death, all maner of 
Egiptianis, alsweill men as wemen, as cowmoun, notorious, and 
cotidamjjned Thevis ; only to be tryit be ane Assyse that thai ar 
callit knawin, rejiute, and haldin Egiptianis : As the said Act of 
Parliament at lenth proportis. Nochttheles, it is of verritie, that 
the foirsaidis persones, being Egiptianis, sua callit, knawin, repute, 
and haldin, in contempt of the said Law and Act of Parliament, as 
Vagabundis, lies lurkit and remanit within this kingdome, sen the 
making and puljlicatioun of the said Act, and nawayis hes jiast 

^ i.e. sentence of outlawry. ^ " If they fail." ^ Qp^ ciY., p. 579. 



92 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

away furth thairof : At the leist, agaiiis the tennour of the said 
Act, hes, sen the said first day of August, 1609 zeiris, repairit within 
this cuntrie, and ar tane and apjirehendit as Vagabundis, and 
maisterles lymmeris and thevis, reput and haldin, knawin and 
callit to be Egiptianis ; quhairin thay and ilk ane of thame hes 
contra venit the tennour of the said Act of Parliament and incurrit 
the panes and pwneschuient mentionet thairintill; quhilk aucht 
and sould be inflictit vpone thame, with all rigour, to the example 
of vtheris of thair race and vnhai^pie Companie to eschew the lyk 
heireftir. 

" Peesewer, Sir Williame Oliphant, knyt. Phelocutoe. in de- 
fence, Mr Thomas Wilsoun, Aduocat. 

" It is allegit be the pannell [the accused] and thair prelocutour, 
that the Dittay is nawayis relevant to pas to ane x\ssyse, in respect 
it is nocht subsumet thairintill, that the persones dilaitit was 
within the cuntrie, the tyme of the making and the publicatioun 
of the said Act of Parliament, quhilk is the grund of this persute ; 
nather yit is the pannell tane and apprehendit for ony Thift, 
Soirning, or Oppressioun, nor accuset thairfoir : Off all quhilkis 
crymes, thay ar willing to byde ane tryell : And thairfoir, the 
Dittay, as it is set doun aganis the i^annell, can nocht pas to ane 
Assyse. — It is ansuerit be my lord Aduocat, that the allegeance 
aucht to be repellit, in respect of the Dittay and Act of Parliament. 

" The Justice Repellis the allegeance ; and Ordanis the pannell 
to pas to ane Assyse. 

" Verdict. The Assyse, be the mouth of Thomas Creichtoun, 
mercheand in Edinburgh, chanceller, fand [found], pronuncet, and 
declairit the saidis Johnne Faa, James Fact, his sone, Moyses Bailzie 
and Helene Broun, all Vagabundis, and repute and haldin to be 
Egiptianis, to be fylet [filed, or recorded] culpable, and convict of 
contravening the tennour of the said Act of Parliament. 

" The Justice continewit the pro[n]unceatioun of Dome vpone 
the persones foirsaidis, quhill he be advyset with the Lordis of 
Secreit Counsall : And ordanit thame to be returnit to waird, to 
the Tolbuth of Edinburgh, in the meyne tyme." 

The result of the judge's conference with the Privy Council 
is found in the sentence declared five days later : — 

"Jm/. 24. — Sentence. The Justice, in respect na cautioun 
[surety] could be fand be thame, for thair departour furth of his 
Maiesteis dominionis, and that thai sould never returne agane 
within the samyn during thair lyftymes, ilk ane of thame vnder the 
pane of ane thowseand merkis money; accoirding to ane Ordinance 
of the Lordis of Secreit Counsall, direct forthat effect, vnder my Lord 
Chancelleris subscriptioun, daitit the xxiiij day of Julii instant ; 
be the mouth of Johnne Dow, dempster of Court, Ordanit the saidis 
Johnne Faa, James Faa, his sone, Moyses Bailzie, and Helene Broun, 
Egiptianis, and sa reput and haldin, tane and apprehendit, to be 



A ROYAL PARDON. 93 

tane to the Burrow-Mure of Edinburgh, and thair to be Hangit 
quhill [i.e. until] thay be deid ; and all thair moveabill guidis to be 
escheit, &c. 

" Quhilk was pronuncet for Dome ; and that, conforme to the 
Ordinance of the Lordis of Secreit Counsell, of the dait above 
expremit." 

The fact that, had those Gypsies been able to find surety for 
their future absence from Scotland, they would have been per- 
mitted to go free, shows how strong the tendency was, in some 
quarters, to deal gently with them. For the mere recognition 
of them as " Egyptians " was itself a sentence of death, 
according to previous statutes. But, in the above in- 
stance, the mercy of the authorities went still further. 
It is evident that " Ane missive to his Majestic anent the 
Egiptianis," dispatched by the Privy Council ^ very soon 
after this judgment had been pronounced, was written with 
a view to obtaining the Eoyal pardon. For the Gypsies, after 
remaining in the prison of Edinburgh for five weeks after 
the sentence of death was pronounced, received a proro- 
gation of that sentence. This appears from a Privy 
Council Minute of August 28, 1616 : — ■ 

" Anent that mater of Egiptianis, now lyand in the ToUmith of 
Edinhurgh, thay war only convict for contraveining the Act of 
Parliament, in not depairting furth of the Ivingdome ; and no vther 
cryme was layed to thair charge, and no cryme is knawin whair- 
vpone thay may be challengit. The Counsell according to His 
Ma"^"* direction, hes gewin Warrand for staying the pronouncing 
of Dome, till His Ma^"^^ farder i)leasour be knawin." - 

" His Majesty's farther pleasure," it became evident in the 
following November, was that they should be wholly par- 
doned, the only stipulation being that they should be banished 
from Scotland. The entry which records this decision in the 
Register of the Privy Council is in these words : — 

"The quhilk day [12th Nov. IGIG], in presence of the Lordis of 
Secreit Counsaill compeirit personalie John Fa, .James Fa, liis sone, 
and Moysie Baillie, and actit and ol)list thame that thay and llelene 
Broun, presentiie prisonneris in the Tlievis Hoill of Edinburgh, sail 
depairt and pas furth of this kingdome within the space of fyfteene 
dayis after the date heirof, and that thay sail nevir returne agane 
within the same, under the pane of deade. And, in respect of this 
present act and oblisment, the saidis Lordis, according to his 

^ Op. cit., p. 620. - Pitcairn, iii. 397, quoting from " the Deiimyhie MSS." 



94 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Majesteis warrant! and directioun in write send unto thame, ordanis 
the Provest and Baillies of Edinburgh to putt tlie saidis personis to 
libertie and f redome and suffer thame pas quhair thay pleis." ^ 

Thus, all this great G-ypsy prosecution had ended in smoke. 
As notorious thieves and " sorners " they could all have been 
executed under the Act of 1455 (11 James II. c. 45). As 
" habite and repute Egyptians " they were deserving of 
death according to the statute of 1609. Four of their leaders 
actually were tried, and, on 24th July 1616, sentenced to 
death. Yet, immediately after, we find their judges earnestly 
bestirring themselves in their favour, with the result that, 
on the 12th of November followiug, they were all set free. 
Their death sentence was not even commuted to " perpetual 
servitude," as was then a common practice. They were set 
absolutely free, with only the one condition that they should 
never again return to Scotland. But as they would find 
themselves almost as much at home in Northumberland or 
Durham, among their brother " faws," this was not a hard 
condition, after their narrow escape from the gallows. 

It is a significant fact, however, that no sooner had John 
Faw, his son James, and their comrade " Moysie " Baillie 
quitted the Council Chamber as free men, than their Lord- 
ships proceeded to draw up " Ane act aganis Egiptianis and 
their ressettaris." This Act was formally passed at their 
meeting on the 14th of the month (two days afterwards) ; 
and its terms throw so much light on the position of 
Scottish Gypsies at that period that it may be quoted in full 
from the Register. 

^^ Sederunt— Chs.x\CQ\\oY ; Lynlithgow ; Binning ; Bugcleugh ; 
Burley ; Privy Seal ; Justice Clerk ; Advocate ; Kilsyth ; 
Medop ; Sir Andro Hammiltoun ; Sir James Skene ; Sir 
Andro Ker ; Sir Peter Rollock. 

" Forsamekle as, albeit the Kingis Majestie, with advise of the 
three Estaitis of this realme convenit in the Parliament haldin at 
Edinburgh in the moneth of Junij the yeir of God j™vj« and nyne 
yeiris, did straitlie command and ordane the vagaboundis, soirnaris, 
and commoun thevis commonlie callit Egiptianis to have depairtit 
and past furthe of this realme betuix and the first day of August 
nixt thairefter following, under the pane of [rebellioun], with 
certificatioun to thame and thay failyed, the said day being bj'past, 
[that] all of thame, alsweill men as weemen, sould be takin, appre- 
^ Privy Council Register, vol. x. , Edinburgh, 1891, p. 655. 



ANTI-GYPSY ACT OF 1616. 95 

hendit, and [exe]cute to the dead as commoun, notorious, and con- 
dempnit thevis, and [that] tliay sould onlie be tryed be ane assyse 
that thay ar callit, knawin, [repute], and haldin to be Egiptianis, 
as in the said act of Parliament, cont[ening] ane expres i^rohibitioun 
and discliairge to all his Majesties lieges and [sub]jectis in no caus to 
ressett, supplee, ressave, or interteny ony of the saidis theivis and 
lymmaris efter the day foirsaid, at lenth is contenit ; notwithstand- 
ing quhaii'of it is of treuthe that, — the theivis and lymmaris 

haveing for some shorte space after the said act of Parliament .... 
[and dis]persit thame seltis in certane derne and obscure placeis 
of the cuntrey [quhair] thay wer not knawne to wander abroad in 
troupis and companeis [according] to thair accustomed maner, — yitt 

shortlie thairefter, finding that the of the said act of 

Parliament wes neglectit, and that no inquirie nor wes 

maid for thame, thay begane to tak new breth and courage, [and to] 
unite thameselffis in infamous companies and societies under 
[cajDitanes and] commanderis, and continuallie sensyne hes remanit 
within the [cuntrey com]mitting alsweill oppin and avowed reiffis 
in all pairtis [quhair thay ar] maisteris as previe stouthis and 
pyckeris ^ quhair thay may not be maisteris ; and thay do shame- 
fullie and mischantlie abuse the simple and ignorant people by 
telling of fortunes and useing of charmes, and a nomber of jugling 
trickis and falsettis unworthie to be hard of in a cuntrey subject to 
religioun, law, and justice ; and thay ar encourageit to remane 
within the cuntrey and to continew in thair thevishe and jugling 
trickes and falsettis, not onlie throw default of the executioun of the 
said act of Parliament, bot, whilk is worse, that grite nomberis of 
his Majesties subjectis, of whome some outwardlie pretendis to be 
famous and unspotted gentilmen, hes gevin and gevis oppin and 
avowed protectioun, ressett, supplie, and maintenance upoun thair 
ground and landis to the saidis vagaboundis, soirnaris, and con- 
dampnit thevis and lymmaris, and sufferis thame to remane dayis, 
oulkis, and monethis togidder thairupoun without controlement, 
and with connivence and oversicht to all stouthis, robries, and other 
juglingis whilkis thay committ in the boundis circumjacent ; 
quiiairby, as thir undewtifuU subjectis, ressettaris and sujjpleairis 
of the saidis lymmaris, do testifie befoir God and the Avarld, that in 
h-nrt, consent, and opinioun thay ar favoraris of the saidis lymmaris 
and condampnit theivis and allowairis of thame in all thair thevish 
and wicked doingis, so thay do leave a foull, infamous, and igno- 
minious spott upoun thame, thair housis, and jDOsteritie, that thay 
ar patronis to theivis and lymmaris : And whereas the houpe of ini- 
^ " Previe stouthis and pyckeris," i.e. " furtive thefts and pilferings." In 
an " Act anent fugitive persons of the Borders to the iu-Countrie " (20 James 
VI, c. 10), such persons are at^cused of coniniitting " darned stouths," an 
expression which has a curiously American sound, until one reflects upon its 
meaning. It is really synonymous with tlie " previe stouthis " of this Act, 
and the adjective is tlie same as the "derne" occurring a few lines higher up, 
and signifying "hidden" or "concealed." 



96 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

punitie apprehend it be thir shameles ressettaris of the saidis theivis 
encourageis thame, without feare of God, reverence of the law, or 
shame of tlie world, to continew in thair unlauchfull ressett and 
favouring of the saidis lyramaris, and consequentlieemboldnes thame 
in contempt of his Majestiehis lawis to reniane within the cuntrey. 
Thairfoir the Lordis of Secrite Counsall hes resolvit no langer to 
oversee this proud contempt of his Majesties auctoritie, nowther in 
the one nor the other, hot examplarlie to jiunishe the same ; and for 
this effect ordanis letteris to be direct to officeris of armes chargeing 
thame to pas to the mercat croceis of the heade burrowis of this 
real me and otheris placeis neidfull, and thair be oppin proclama- 
tioun to mak new publicatioun of the said act of Parliament, and to 
command, charge, and inhibit all and sindrie his Majesties liegeis 
and subjectis that nane of thame presoome nor tak upoun hand to 
ressett, supplee, nor shaw favour to the saidis theivis and lymmaris 
callit Egiptianis, nor to suffer thame hant, resort, remane nor abyde 
ui^oun thair ground and land, bot that tliay hunt, follow, and per- 
sew thame as theivis, soirnairis, traytouris, and condampnit lym- 
maris, ay and quhill thay be apprehendit and punist accordinglie, 
certifeeing thame that sail failyie or do in the contrair that thay 
salbe repute, haldin and estimate as supplearis, ressettaris, and 
favouraris of commoun and condampnit thevis, and as assistaris and 
partakairis with thame in thair evill deidis, and salbe persewit and 
punist for the same with all rigour. And, to the effect that all pre- 
text of excuise may be tane fra his Majesties saidis subjectis for not 
putting of the said act of Parliament to executioun aganis the saidis 
thevis and lymmaris, the saidis Lordis, according to the tennour of 
the said act of Parliament, hes maid and constitute, and be the 
tennour heirof makis and constitutis all our Soverane Lordis good 
and lauclifull subjectis his Majesties justiceis in that pairt to the 
effect underwrittin, with full power to thame to search, seik, and 
apprehend and committ to wairde all theivis and lymmaris, men 
and weemen, callit Egiptianis, and to caus justice be ministrat 
upoun thame conforme to the said act of Parliament ; and for this 
effect justice courtis to sett, begin, affix, hald, and continew, suitis," 
&c., &c. [as in other commissions of justiciary].^ 

The year 1616 contains yet another Gypsy reference, — 
in an Orkney trial of June 13, when "Magnus Linay and 
his wife were accused of having accompanied the Egyptians, 
and of having ' leirnit to take the proffeit of thair nyghtbouris 
cornis and ky of the saids Egyptians, as the captane of thame 
declarit.'"^ 

^ Op. cit., pp. 655-57. - Quoted iu Daly ell's Darker Superstitions of 
Scotlaiul, Glasgow, 1835, p. 236. 



CHAPTER X. 

TAKIXG the various Gypsy incidents in their chrono- 
logical order, the next to be noticed is a trifling event 
of 31st January 1619, to which allusion has already been 
made in these pages. On that date, the church records of 
Aberdeen chronicle the following grievous sin, and its con- 
sequences : — " Patrick Bodie, tailor, confessed that he made 
enquiry at the Egyptians for a gentlewoman's gown which 
was stolen out of his booth ; and therefore, in respect of his 
consultation with witches, the bishop and session ordain 
him to compear before the pulpit on Sunday next, and there, 
immediately after sermon, before noon, sit down on his knees 
before the pulpit, and confess his offence in presence of the 
congregation, and crave God and his congregation pardon." ^ 

It is probable that the Gypsies were able to tell the tailor 
where he would find the missing gown, which they could 
doubtless have returned to him on the spot, had they 
thought it judicious. But his offence, in the eyes of " the 
bishop and session," consisted in the fact that he and they 
believed that by consulting the Gypsies he was making use 
of a supernatural agency which none of them regarded as 
the proper one. It was an oftence at law as well. For we 
have seen that, among the " enormities that craved most 
speedy reformation," in the opinion of James the Sixth, 
thirty years earlier, was the crime of " seeking of responses 
or help at witches." The whole affair, ridiculous as it seems 
to us nowadays, throws light upon one particular aspect of 
the Gypsy question, and upon the ideas of the time. 

But it is curious to notice that, although the bailies of 
Aberdeen had, in 15-40, forljidden the Gypsies to come again 
into that town, and although the year 1616 witnessed the 

^ Selections from Ecclesiastical Records of Aherdeen, Spalding Club, Aberdeen, 
1846, p. 87. 

G 



98 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

passing of an Act that was supposed to do what none of its 
forerunners had done, namely to put an an end for ever to the 
Gypsy trouble, yet here we have a company of Gypsies liv- 
ing at or near Aberdeen in 1619, apparently quite at their 
ease. The unhaj^py tailor was severely censured for having 
consulted them ; but nothing seems to have been done to the 
Gypsies themselves. 

The previous chapter gave a full account of the trial and 
conviction, in 1616, of John and James Faw, Moses Baillie, 
and Helen Brown, and their subsequent pardon by the King. 
The royal clemency was again displayed in a similar case, 
eight years later. The circumstances which occasioned it 
were these. The parish of Lasswade, and notably the Vale 
of Eoslin, situated some six or eight miles to the south-east 
of Edinburgh, had been for some time a favourite resort of 
the Gypsies ; some of whom, it will be remembered, figured 
at the bridge of Lasswade in 1598. "Whether or not it was 
owing to the fact that the lord of the manor of Eoslin had 
once saved a condemned Gypsy from the gallows on the 
Burgh Muir, it seems beyond question that the Gypsies 
were accustomed to assemble every summer in the " stanks " 
or marsh lands of Eoslin, where they "acted several plays." 
The numbers of the Gypsies in the neighbourhood, and the 
freedom they enjoyed, formed the subject of a Privy Council 
enactment of July 15, 1623 : — 

" At the time noted," says Mr Eobert Chambers, in his Domestic 
Annals of Scotland (vol. i. p. 536), "the Privy Council had their 
attention called to this Patmos of the outlawed race. They remark 
that, while the laws enjoined all persons in authority 'to execute 
to the deid the counterfeit thieves and limmers, the Egyptians,' it 
was nevertheless reported that a number of them were now within 
the bounds of Eoslin, ' where they have a jjeaceable I'eceipt and 
abode as if they were lawful subjects, committing stowths and 
reifs in all parts where they may tind the occasion.' The Council, 
therefore, issued an order to the sheriff of the district, who happened 
to be Sinclair, younger of Eoslin, himself, commanding him 'to 
pass, search, seek, hunt, follow and pursue the said vagabond 
thieves and limmers,' and bring them to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh 
for due punishment." 

That this was done, and a large captui'e made of "Faws," 
men, women, and children, is evident from a trial of the 
following January, recorded by Pitcairn. On 23d January 



TEIAL OF ROSLIX GYPSIES IX 1624. 99 

1624, eight of their leaders were brought to trial; on the 
following day they were sentenced to be hanged at the 
Burgh Muir (the usual place of execution) ; and this sen- 
tence was carried into effect before the 29th of the month. 
These eight Gypsies are thus styled in the indictment : — 

" Capita>*e Johnne Faa, Eobert Faa, Samuell Faa, Johnne Faa 
younger, Andro Faa, "Williame Faa, Piobert Broun, Gawin Trotter, 
all Egiptianis, Vagaboundis, and common Tlievis, &c." 

On the 29th of January, their widows and children were 
also " dilaitit " before the Court for the same offence of 
being " Egyptians." They are described in the following 
terms : — 

"Helene Faa, the relict of vmq'^ [i.e. the late, or deceased] 
Capitane Johnne Faa ; Lucrece Faa, spous to James Broun ; 
Elspetli Faa, brether-dochter [niece] to the Capitane ; Katharene 
Faa, relict of vrnq'*^ Eduard Faa ; ]\Ieriore Faa, spous to James Faa ; 
Jeane Faa, the relict of vniq^*^ Andro Faa ; Helene Faa, the relict 
of vmq''' Robert Campbell ; Margaret Faa, dochter to vmq'* Eduard 
Faa ; Issobell Faa, the relict of vniq'*^ Piobert Brouu ; Margaret 
Vallantyne, relict of Johnne Wilsoun ; Elspeth Faa, dochter to 

vmq^*^ Henrie Faa Alexander Faa, sone to Eduard Faa, 

Johnne Faa and Francie Faa, sones to vmq'*^ Capitane Johnne Faa, 
and Harie Broun, brother to vmq^« Robert Broun." 

These also were found guilty ^ and sentenced to suffer 
death by drowning, but their fate was referred to the King's 
pleasure, by a letter of the Privy Council, written to the 
King on the day of their conviction. The King took five or 
six weeks to think the matter over; but when the con- 
demned Gypsies heard the tenor of his reply, they no doubt 
thought it worth waiting for. The royal letter, addressed 
to the Scottish Privy Council, and dated at Hampton Court, 
13th March 1624, is as follows: — 

" We haue vnderstood, by your Letter of the 29 of Januar last, 
that a nomber of these Thieves and counterfooted Vagabondis, 
commonlie callit Egiptiaxis, being appreliendit be your directioun, 
war thereftir put to a Criminall tryell, and being lawfuUie con- 
victed, that eight of the men wer executed, and that the rest, 
being aither childrene and of lesse-age, and wemen with chyld, or 

1 "The assize for the maist part liiidis, tliat the persoues on panoll, are 
vagaboundis, and repute and holden for Egyptianis, and be their remaining 
within this kingdome, and nocht removeing tliaimeselfis furtli yrof, oiiforrne 
to the act of Parliament, findis thaime, and cverie ane of thainie, gihie and 
culpable of contravening thereof." 



100 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

geving sucke to childi'ene, Ye haue therfore committed thair 
persones to prissone, superceicling the executione of the Sentence 
pronunced aganis thame, till yee should acquaynte ws, and know 
oure further jDleasoure thairanent. Ix whiche regaird, these are to 
certelie to yow, that as "We allow well of the course taiken for 
executeing of the men, so now, in colde bloode (these children and 
weemen haueing beene soe long kepte prisoneris), and cheflie in 
respect of that which yee wryte to be the present estaite of most 
part of these weemen, We can not bot inclyne to pittie and com- 
passion of them. Wherefore, as We ar willing that their lyues 
be spared, soe that nather thame selues, nor any others of that 
kynd may be therby emboldnd to presume vpone our clemencie, 
yee sail caus thame act them selues to depairt, with thair childrene, 
furth of that our kingdome,^ between and such a competent day as 
yee shall think fitting, for that effect, to i^rescriue ; vnder the 
payne of death, to be inflicted (without any forder process or dome) 
vpone them, whersoever they can be apprehendit within our said 
kingdome, efter the said day. Axd for your putting them to 
libertie (nochtwithstanding the Sentence pronunced against them), 
vpone condition foirsaid, these shalbe vnto yow a Warrant 
sufficient," &c."- 

The year 1636 furnishes us with the following item : — 

" Apud ED^, 10 iSTovembris, 1636. 'Forsameikle as Sir Arthure 
Douglas of Quhittinghame haveing latelie tane and apprehendit 
some of the vagabound and counterfut theives and limmars, callit 
Egyptianis, he presentit and delyverit thame to the Shereff- 
principall of the shirefdome of Edinburghe, within the con- 
stabularie of Hadington, quhair they have remained this month, 
or thairby ; and quhairas, the keeping of thame longer within the 
said Tolboith, is troublesome and burdenable to the toun oj 
Hadington, and fosters the saids theives in ane opinion of 
impunitie, to the incourageing of the rest of that infamous byke * 
of lawless limmars to continow in their thei'vish trade : Thairfoir, 
the Lords of Secret CotaueU. ordaxs the Shireff of Hadinton or his 
deputs to pronunce Doome and Sentence of Death aganis so 
manie counterfoot Theives as ar men, and aganis so manie of the 
weomen as wants children, Ordaning the men to be Hangit, and 
the weomen to be Drowned : and that suche of the weomen as hes 
children to be Scourgit throw the burgh of Hadinton and Brunt 

^ It may be noticed that, the laws of his two kmgdoms being distinct and 
separate, this letter of the King's only applied to Scotland. Thus, the 
released Faws had simply to cross the Border into Northumberland, and there 
resume their former life ; with this advantage, that, so far as English laws 
were concerned, they had a "clean record " to begin with. This, it is very 
probable, was the course they adopted. - For this letter, and the trial of 
these G}-psies, see Pitcairn, iii. 559-62. ^ " Usually applied to denote a hive 
or nest of wasps, wild bees, or hornets. " 



JOHX STEWART AND JAMES FAW, EGYPTIANS. 101 

IN THE CHEEKE : ^ And Ordauis and commandis the Provest and 
Baillies of Hadinton to cans this doome be execute vpon the saidis 
persons accordinglie." ^ 

On 25th September 1637, the Lord Justice-General con- 
sidered and disposed of the case of " John Stewart sone to 
Xiniane Stewart of Stokwall in Glasgow and James faa sone 
to Moysie faa, bayth egipsianes, Quha grantit thame selffis to 
be Egipsianes and that thai had bene followeris and keipit 
companie with the egipsianes thir nyne or ten yeiris bygane." 
It was stated on behalf of the prisoners that, since their 
capture, they had made supplication to the Privy Council to 
spare their lives, promising that they would voluntarily go 
and serve in the wars abroad, and never again return within 
" His Majesteis haill dominiones," If their prayer be granted, 
they bind themselves to go " with all possible diligence in 
companie of Colonell Eobert Stewart or ony uther colonell 
or capitane as sail tak thame To serve thame in the weiris, 
Quha sail be answerable for thame and geve band and assur- 
ance to my lord Justice Generall for thair transpourt and 
away passing furth of this Kingdome with the said Colonell 
or Capitane." The prisoners also bind themselves " nocht to 
leave the service of the said Colonell or Capitane nor to ryn 
away or escaip frome thair said service directlie nor in- 
directlie." The Lord Justice-General accordingly returned 
the prisoners to the custody of the Edinburgh magistrates, 
until " the said Colonell or Capitane tak thame off the saidis 
bailzeis handis to the effect above written."^ 

Among certain " articles and desires " laid before the 
Scottish Parliament by the Commissioners of the Church of 
Scotland in 10-41, the tenth in number states that — 

"It is humbly desired tliat order may be taken with sturdy 
beggars, Egyptians, and vagabonds, and a solid course be hiid down 
for removing the liorrible vilhmies committed by such persons in 
all time coming." ^ 

This appeal did not apparently meet with a response 
till 1647, when the following " Answer " is (inter alia) 
recorded : — 

' The old punishment specified in the Act of 1424, against " beggars and 
idle men," - Pitcairn, iii. 594-95 (quoted by him from the Privy Council 
Register). ^ Justiciary Records. ^ Thomson's Acts of the Parliaments of 
Scotland, vol. v. (ed. 1870), p. 646rt. 



102 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

" Item, for the overture anent the restraining of idle and sturdy 
beggars and gypsies, The estates [of Parliament] ordain the i^ro- 
curator of estate to consider all the Acts of Parliament made to 
that purpose, and to rejDort their opinion to the next session of 
Parliament what is further necessary to be done to make these 
Acts effectual in time coming." ' 

The records of the burgh of Stirling show that a capture 
of Gypsies was made there iu 1656. This is testified to by 

these two entries : — " 1656, March-September Item, 

payit for ropes to bind the Egyptianes, £0. 2. 8 : Item, to 
the hangman to go throw with them, £1. 10. 0."^ The 
ominous payment to tlie hangman seems to indicate that 
they were sent to Edinburgh for trial, and perhaps for 
execution. Or it may be that they lingered on iu the gloom 
of the Edinburgh Tolbooth till the following summer, and 
that they formed the subject of these entries : ^ — 

" Upon the 10 day of lunij 1657, ane Egyptiane callit Phaa wes 
execute upon the Castlehill of Edinburgh for murthour." 

" 10 July 1657. Sevin Egyptianes, men & women, were 
scurgit throw Edinburgh, and banisched this natioun, with certi- 
ficatioun gif thai returned within the same, they sould be execute 
to the death." 

In 1661, "Commission and Instructions" were issued 
anew to justices and constables, by Act of Parliament, with 
the view of arresting Gypsies and other vagrants. And it 
is evident from subsequent references that a great many 
Gypsies must have been deported to the British " planta- 
tions" in Virginia, Jamaica, and Barbadoes during the 
second half of the seventeenth century. That they had there 
to undergo a temporary, if not a " perpetual " servitude, 
seems very likely ; for certain merchants and planters who 
applied to the Privy Council in 1714 for permission to take 
them, did so with the avowed intention of using them as 
labourers. To what extent the people of those places to-day 
are possessed of seventeenth-century Gypsy blood is an 
interesting, though perhaps a delicate question. 

The following passage, which, under the date November 
1665, occurs in Eobert Chambers's Domestic Annals of 

1 Op. cit., vol. vi. p. 7635. - This extract, contributed to Gyp.-Lore Soc. 
Jour., ii. 64, by Mr A. Henry Constable, is from p. 321 of the Appendix to 
Extracts from the Records of the Royal Burgh of Stirling (Glasgow, 1890). 
3 Nicoll's Diary, 1650-67 (published by the Banuatyne Club), pp. 198 and 200. 



TRANSPORTATION OF GYPSIES TO AMERICA. 103 

Scotland from the Reformation to the Eevolution (1858, vol. ii. 
p. 304), denotes very clearly the condition of Scotland, so 
far as regards its nomadic castes, during the second half of 
the seventeenth century :— 

" The light regard paid to the personal rights of 
individuals was shown by a wholesale deportation of poor 
people at this time [1665] to the West Indies. The chronic 
evil of Scotland, an oppressive multitude of idle, wandering 
people and beggars, was not now much less afflicting than 
it had been in the two preceding reigns. It was proposed 
to convert them to some utility by transferring them to a 
field where there was a pressing want of labour. On the 2d 
of November, George Hutcheson, merchant in Edinburgh, for 
himself and copartners addressed the Privy Council on this 
subject, ' out of a desire as weel to promote the Scottish and 
English plantations in Gemaica and Barbadoes for the 
honour of their country, as to free the kingdom of the burden 
of many strong and idle beggars, Egyptians, common and 
notorious thieves, and other dissolute and looss persons 
banished and stigmatised for gross crimes.' The petitioners 
had, by warrant of the sheriffs, justices of the peace, and magis- 
trates of burghs, apprehended and secured some of these 
people; yet, without authority of the Council, they thought 
they might ' meet with some opposition in the promoting 
and advancing ,so good a work.' It was therefore necessary 
for them to obtain due order and warrant from the Council. 

" The Council granted warrant and power to the petitioners 
to transport all such persons, ' providing always that ye bring 
the said persons before the Lords Justice-Clerk, to whom it 
is hereby recommended to try and take notice of the persons, 
that they be justly convict for crimes, or such vagabonds as, 
by the law of the country, may be apprehended, to the effect 
the country may be disburdened of them.' 

" Two months later James Dunbar, merchant, bound for 
Barbadoes, was licensed to take sundry ' vagabonds and idle 
persons, prisoners in Edinburgh, content to go of their own 
accord.' " 

It will be observed that those mercliants modestly refrain 
from saying that they took all this truul)le "out of a desire 
as weel to promote " their own interests as anything else. 



[04 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

I 

but it is obvious that they were securing thereby, at very 
little cost, a caste of " perpetual servants " whose condition in 
the West Indies was little better than that of slaves. 

The year 1671 is notable in Scottish Gypsy annals as the 
date given for the birth of William Marshall, a famous chief 
of the Galloway Gypsies. If the alleged date of his birth be 
correct, he lived to a truly patriarchal age ; for it is certain 
that his death took place in 1792. Sir Walter Scott accepts 
the date of his birth as correct ; so also did the editor of the 
Ncio Annual Bcgistcr, in which peiiodical his death was 
noticed as one of the " Principal Occurrences ' of that year ; 
and the inscription on his tombstone, still standing in the 
old churchyard of Kirkcudbright, is in these words : — " The 
Eemains of William Marshall, Tinker, who died 28th Xov. 
1792, at the advanced age of 120 years." Assuming, then, 
that he really was born in 1671, he spent the first forty- 
three years of his life under the Stewarts, and therefore — 
especially as he was quite a celebrity, in his way— he may 
be fitly noticed in these pages. The following are some of 
the statements made regarding him, gleaned from various 
sources. 

He was born in the parish of Kirkmichael, Ayrshire, in or 
about the year 1671. " He was of the family of the Marshalls, 
who have been tinklers in the south of Scotland time out of 
mind. He was a short, thick-set little fellow, with dark 
quick eyes ; and, being a good boxer, also famous at the 
quarter-staff, he soon became eminent in his core," i.e. 
among the Gypsies. Eeferring to what he recollected of 
his early life, when an old man, the account in the Ncio 
Annual Register says : — " He retained his senses almost to 
the last hour of his life ; and remembered distinctly to have 
seen King William's fleet, when on their way to Ireland, rid- 
ing at anchor in the Solway frith, close by the Bay of Kirk- 
cudbright, and the transports lying in the harbour. He was 
present at the siege of Derry ^ [1689], where having lost his 
uncle, who commanded a king's frigate, he returned home, 
enlisted into the Dutch service, went to Holland, and soon 
after came back to his native country." " Willie had been 

^ Another writer says: "The fact never was doubted, of his having been 
a private soldier in the army of King "William, at the battle of the Boyne." 



THE CAIRO OF BARULLION. 105 

pressed or enlisted in the army seven times," says Sir 
AValter Scott, " and had deserted as often ; besides three 
times running away from the naval service." Another writer 
states that, on one occasion : — " He and his gang bemg in the 
neighbourhood of Glasgow when there was a great fair to be 
held in it, himself and two or three more of his stamp, hav- 
ing painted their faces with T^cd^ they went to the fair and 
enlisted, getting each so much cash. They then deserted to 
their crew in the wild mountain glen, leaving the soldiers 
without a single cue [clue] whereby to find them." On 
another occasion, when he was serving as a soldier in " the 
wars ill Flanders" (or, according to one version, when he was 
" a private in some of the British regiments which served 
under the great Duke of Marlborough in Germany, about 
the year 1705"), he told his commanding officer, who was of 
a Galloway family, that he intended deserting in a few days, 
as he wished to attend the annual Fair of Keltonhill, froui 
which he had never been absent. And desert he accordingly 
did. A favourite haunt of his gang was the " Corse o ' 
Slakes," a wild mountain pass between Cairnsmoor and 
Cairnhattie ; and from the neighbouring Fell of Barullion he 
obtained his popular title of "The Caird of Barullion." 
*' For a great period of his long life he reigned with sovereign 
sway over a numerous and powerful gang of Gypsy tinkers, 
who took their range over Carrick in Ayrshire, the Carrick 
Mountains, and over the stewartry and shire of Galloway ; 

and now and then they crossed at Donaghadee, and 

visited the counties of Down and Deny,". in Ireland. In 
1712, he and his followers were defeated by " a powerful 
body of tinkers from Argyle or Dumbarton," whose terri- 
tories he was encroaching upon, and " many died of their 
wounds " after the battle. In 1723, he appears as the 
leader of the " Levellers," a party composed of peasants and 
small farmers, as well as Gypsies, who, resenting the action 
of certain landed proprietors in enclosing common lands, 
proceeded to knock down and " level " the offending stone- 
dykes. In 1750, Anne Gibson, " daughter of William 

^ Ruddle. Tliis proceeding on tlie jiart of the Gypsies seems clearly to 
indicate a survival of the custom of painting the lace before going on the 
war-path. 



106 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

Marshall, the gipsy and robber who had long harassed 
Galloway," was transported to " his Majesty's plantations." 
IMarshall's descendants were " prodigiously numerous." " He 
had been seventeen times lawfully married," says Sir Walter 
Scott ; " and besides such a reasonably large share of matri- 
monial comforts, was, after his hundredth year, the avowed 
father of four children, by less legitimate affections." " It 
seems that he had both the good and bad qualities of man 
about him in a very large degree. He was kind, yet he was 
a murderer — an honest soul, yet a thief — at times a generous 
savage — at other times a wild Pagan. He knew both ci\dl 
and uncivilized life — the dark and fair side of human 
nature." " I would like to be excused from the performance 
of any such task as drawing the character of Billy Marshal," 
says one who had met him ; and, after paying a tribute to 
his better qualities of mind and body, he goes on : — " It be- 
comes my duty to add that (from expediency, it is believed, 
not from choice), with the exception of intemperate drinking, 
treachery, and ingratitude, he practised every crime which 
is incident to human nature. Those of the deepest dye, I am 
afraid, cannot with truth be included in the exception ; in 
short, his people met with an irreparable loss in the death 
of their king and leader ; but it never was alleged that the 
moral world sustained any loss by the death of the man." 

Eobber and murderer though he was, an " Egyptian " by 
habit and repute, if ever there was one, we find hun in the 
year 1789 living comfortably in a cottage " at the hamlet or 
clachan of Polnure, a spot beautifully situated on the burn 
or stream of that name," in the south of Wigtownshire ; and 
we have the assurance of Sir Walter Scott that " he subsisted, 
in his extreme old age, by a pension from the present Earl 
of Selkirk's grandfather," ^ — though Scott omits to state for 
which of his virtues it was granted. Nor does the weight of 
nearly six-score years appear to have subdued and chastened 
his real nature. It is true that the gentleman who Aisited 
him in 1789 records how the old Gypsy " admonished me to 
' tak care o' my han', and do naething to dishonor the gude 
stock o' folic that I was come o' ;' " but when this youth and 

^ This was Dunbar Hamilton, afterwards Douglas, fourth Earl of Selkirk 
(1723-99). 



A FAMOUS GYPSY FUNERAL. 107 

his friends revisited the cottage late that night, the old 
scamp was roaring out a ribald song, heartily chorussed by 
some of his gang who were drinking with him. 

He died at Kirkcudbright on 28th November 1792, and, as 
already stated, was buried in the churchyard there ; his 
tombstone having two ram's horns and two " cutty-spoons," 
crossed, sculptured on the back. " A great concourse of 
people of all ranks attended his funeral, and paid due respect 
to his astonishing age. The Countess of Selkirk, who, for a 
course of years, had liberally contributed to his support, on 
this occasion discharged the expense of his funeral." These 
are the words of a writer in the New Annual Register, who 
therein differs slightly from Scott as to the source of ]\Iarshairs 
pension. In other details connected with his latter end 
there are also some contradictory statements. One local 
historian says that he " was buried in state by the Hammer- 
men, which body would not permit the Earl of Selkirk to 
lay his head in the grave, merely because his Lordship was 
not one of their incorporated tribe ; " while another asserts 
that " Lord Daer [tlie Earl of Selkirk's second son] attended 
his funeral as chief mourner, to the churchyard of Kirkcud- 
bright, and laid his head in the grave." 

Such is an outline of the career and character of one of 
the most remarkable of Scottish Gypsies ; ^ and if many 
of the statements made regarding him seem to us anomalous 
and incomprehensible, that fact does not render him the less 
typical of the caste to which he belonged, 

^ These various accounts are taken from — Scott's "Additional Xote " to 
Guy Mawiiering ; New Annual Register, 1792 ("Principal Occurrences"); 
Scots Magazine, Dec, 1792 ; ll'Taggart's Gallovidian Encyclopedia (s.v. 
" Billy Marshall" and "Corse o' Slakes ") ; Mackenzie's History of Galloway, 
vol, ii, p, 403 ; and Blackivood's Magazine (August 1817). Marshall's death 
is also mentioned in Chalmers's Caledonia, and there are several references to 
him in Simson's History of the Gipsies, in W. Brockie's Gypsies of Yctholm 
(Rutherford, Kelso, 1884), and in the Life of James Allan — a Northunihriaii 
Gypsy — published at Newcastle. 



CHAPTER XI. 

THEEE years after the birth of " The Caird of Barullion " 
another notable G-ypsy trial took place at Edinburgh. 
It is referred to incidentally by Maclaurin (Lord Dreghorn), 
who, when speaking " Of Jurors,"^ states that formerly " they 
were brought ex vicineto, i.e., from the neighbourhood of 
the place where the pannels [the accused] dwelt, however 
distant," and who, in illustration of this fact, observes : — 
" In the case of the Faas, tried at Edinburgh in 1674, for 
sorning, murder, etc., ten of the jury were brought from 
that part of the country in which the crimes had been 
committed." 

The autumn of 1677 witnessed a Gypsy fray in Tweed- 
dale, which, considering that there was scarcely a dozen 
combatants on either side, was fought with great des- 
peration. It is thus described by a local writer of the year 
1715:2— 

" Upon the first of October 1677, there hai^pened at Romanno,^ 
in the very spot where now the Dovecot is built, a Memorable 
Polymachy betwixt two Claims of Gipsies, the Fawes and Shawes, 
who had come from Haddingtoun Fair, and were going to the Hare- 
stains to meet two other Clanns of those Eogues, the Baillies and 
Browns, with a resolution to Fight them ; they fell out at Romanno 
amongst themselves, about divideing the Spoyl they had got at 

1 Arguments and Decisions, Edinbiu'gh, 1774, p. xxvii et seq, - Dr A. 
Pennecuik, in his Description of the Shire of Twcaldale, Edinburgh, 1715, pp. 
14, 15. ^ A suggestive and appropriate name for a Gypsy battle. The 
lands of Romanno belonged to a family bearing that surname, which became 
extinct in the male line about the beginning of the sixteenth century. 



THE BALLAD OF " JOHNNY FAW." 109 

Haddington, and fought it Manfully ; of the Fawes -were four 
Brethren and a Brother's Son ; of the Shawes, the Father with 
three Sons, with several Women on both sides : Old Sandie Faw, a 
Bold and jDroper fellow, with his Wife then with Child, were both 
kill'd Dead upon the place, and his Brother George vei-y dangerously 
Wounded." 

The chronicler adds — 

"February 1678. Old Eobin Shaw the Gipsie, with his three 
Sones, were hang'd at the Grass-Me[r]cat [in Edinburgh] for the 
abovementioned murder, committed at Eomanno, and John Faw 
was hang'd the Wednesday following for another murder." 

Froni the contemporary MS. of a celebrated judge, it 
appears that the Faws and Shaws had intended to " chase " 
the Browns and Baillies back into Ireland, whence (it is 
stated) they had come. The execution of old Shaw is 
placed on 6th February, and the second execution on the 
13th, when " one of the Faws, called Eobert [not John] Faw, 
being convict of having killed one Young, a caird or tinker 
in Aberdene, was also hang'd." ^ 

The traditional story of the elopement of a Countess of 
Cassillis with a certain " Johnnie Faw, the Gypsy laddie," 
is popularly placed in the first half of the seventeenth 
century. The story is of old standing, as is also the ballad 
which has helped to perpetuate it. But, according to Sir 
William Fraser, it has no historical basis to stand upon. 
That writer ^ points out that the Lady Cassillis identified as 
the heroine of the ballad and tale died greatly regretted by 
her husband, after twenty-one years of married life. And 
he maintains that the " great respect and tenderness for the 
memory of the Countess Jane " which the Earl evinced, " is 
quite inconsistent with the story of her elopement with the 
Gipsy King." It might be urged that this is a matter of 
opinion ; and that, the Gypsy lover and his band having 

1 Historical Notices of Scottish Affairs (printed for the Bannatyne Chib), 
Edinburgh, 1848, p. 187. See also the Privy Council Rcrjistcr, and Sinison's 
History, pp. 188-89. From these executions of 1678 it is evident that 
it was now becoming "usual to take cognisance of murder amongst the 
Egyptians." (Compare the plea urged in the trial at Scalloway in 1612, 
p. 53 ante.) " In his Memorials of the Montfjomerics, Earls of Eijlinton 
(Edinburgh, 1859), vol. i, pp. ix-xii. 



110 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

been hanged in front of the castle (as tradition states), the 
escapade may have been overlooked and eventually almost 
forgotten. Or, the correctness of the tale may be questioned 
only as regards the date fixed upon. The tradition is 
certainly deep-rooted. As a ballad it is very widespread, 
and as a story it still clings to the scene of the alleged 
adventure ; where a ford ^ across the Eiver Doon bears the 
name of " the Gypsies' Steps." But there is apparently no 
historical evidence to bear out the story." This also is 
the view taken by Professor Child, who, in his English and 
Scottish Popular Ballads (Part VII., Boston, 1890), gives 
eleven different versions of the ballad (while a twelfth 
variant was recently obtained by Mr John Sampson from 
some English Gypsies ; for which see Gyp.-Lore Soc. Joicr., ii. 
84-85). 

A casual reference in one version of the Paw-Cassillis 
tradition suggests another Gyspy incident. The arrival of 
the Gypsy lover at the Countess's home is thus descriljed :— 
" One evening as she was taking her accustomed walk on the 
battlements of the castle of CassiUis, on the left bank of the 
Doon, she descried a band of Gypsies hastily approaching. 
Such bands were very common at that period, but the number 
and suspicious appearance of this company were calculated to 

create considerable alarm On arriving at the house, 

however, instead of offering violence, they commenced some 
of their wild strains," and so on with the tale.^ This 
reference to the formidable appearance then presented by a 
band of Gypsies is quite borne out by the many references 
in the statutes to their predatory habits, to the " insolencies " 
they committed, and to the fact that they went armed, and 
would " even attack the lieges with hagbuts and pistolets 



1 More probaljly a series of stepping-stones. - Even sucli a detail as the 
existence of a certain piece of tapestry commemorating the event (Anderson's 
Scottish Nation, i. 607) receives no confirmation at the present daj' ; as I am 
assured that no such tapestry exists in the castle referred to, or is remembered 
by the representative of the family. Curiouslj' enough, a piece of tapestry 
representing an incident in the life of these same Gypsy Faws, but of later 
date, is stated by Mr Simson {History, p. 237) to have been preserved in a 
Fifeshire family, of good social position, with whom they had intermarried. 
^ Anderson's Scottish Nation, i. 607. 



FORMIDABLE CHARACTER OF GYPSY GANGS, 111 

when opposed." ^ And the fears ascribed to the Countess of 
Cassillis at the sight of the Gypsy band are (whatever the 
truth of that tradition) quite in agreement with the following 
anecdote :- — 

" A writer in BlacJcivoocVs J/agazine mentions that the Gipsies 
late in the sev^enteenth century, broke into the house of Pennicuik 
[]Mid-Lothian], when the greater part of the family were at church. 
Sir John Clerk, the proprietor, barricaded himself in his own 
apartment, where he sustained a sort of siege — firing from tlie 
windows upon the robbers, who fired upon him in return. One of 
them, while straying through the house in quest of booty, happened 
to ascend the stairs of a very narrow turret, but, slipiDing his foot, 
caught hold of the rope of the alarm bell, the ringing of which 
startled the congregation assembled in the parish church. They 
instantly came to the rescue of the laird, and succeeded, it is said, 
in apprehending some of the Gipsies, who were executed. Thei'e 
is a written account of this daring assault ke])t in the records of the 
family."^ 

Such traditional stories as these, wliich, whether themselves 
authentic or not, are founded on an actual condition of thino-s 
help one to realise the necessity for that long succession of 
anti-Gypsy enactments, so often ignored and so fitfully 
enforced. And a very partial knowledge of the feuds and 
jealousies that long animated the great nobles of Scotland, 
enables one to understand that when one of these exerted 
his influence to save an accused Gypsy from conviction, or 
when — in the face of prohibitory laws — he " resetted " and 
sustained a Gypsy band for weeks, or even months at a time, 
he was really securing for himself a not unimportant body 
of adherents, for occasions of private revenge or (as in the 
case of the Earl of Crawfurd) of treasonable revolt. 

The acknowledged leader of the Baillie tribe in the latter 

' For confirmation of this practice, even in the eighteenth century, see 
.Simson's History, p. 205, note. In passing, it may be noticed that Sir 
"Walter Scott had recognised the formidable character of the Gypsy gangs in 
times anterior to liis own, when, in describing the a]>pearance of a certain 
old Scottish manor-house, he employs these words : — " Neitlicr did the front 
indicate absolute security from danger. There were loop-holes for musketry, 
and iron staiichions on the lov;er windows, probably to repel any rovin" 
band of Gipsies, or resist a predatory visit from the caterans of the neigh- 
bouring Highlands" {Wavcrlcy, ch, viii.). ^ Simson's History, pp, 195-90, 
See also Mr John J, Wilson's Annals of Penicuik, Edinburgli, 1S91. 



112 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

part ofthe seventeenth century, and until his death in 1724, 
was the celebrated " Captain William Baillie." " He appears 
in no very creditable light in the records of the Presbytery 
of Biggar [in the south of Scotland]. On the 9th of June 
1695, Margaret Shankland, being summoned, compeared 
before that reverend court, and judicially confessed the crime 
of adultery with William Baillie, the Gipsy." ^ He is 
elsewhere styled " William Baillie, brazier, commonly called 
Gipsy. "^ The fact that a man so styled should also be " known 
all over the country " ^ as " Captain Baillie " or otherwise 
as " Mr Baillie," and that he should have, as he is stated to 
have had, the bearing and breeding of a gentleman, forms 
not only an illustration of the superior position of high- 
caste Gypsies in former times, but it also indicates that the 
" brazier " caste had not, in the seventeenth century, entirely 
lost the importance which, as Mr C. G. Leland has pointed 
out,* it once possessed. The account which Mr Simson, 
senior, ^ gives of this celebrated chief is well worth tran- 
scribing here : — 

" The extraordinary man Baillie, who is here so often mentioned, 
was well-known in Tweeddale and Clydesdale ; and my great- 
grandfather, who knew him well, used to say that he was the 
handsomest, the best dressed, the best looking, and the best bred 
man he ever saw. As I have already mentioned, he generally rode 
one of the best horses the kingdom could produce ; himself attired 
in the finest scarlet, with his greyhounds following him, as if he 

had been a man of the tirst rank He acted the character of 

the gentleman, the robber, the sorner, and the tinker, whenever it 
answered his purpose. He was considered, in his time, the best 
swordsman in all Scotland. With this weapon in his hand, and his 
back at a wall, he set almost everything, saving firearms, at defiance. 
His sword is still j^reserved by his descendants, as a relic of their 
powerful ancestor. The stories that are told of this splendid Gipsy 
are numerous and interesting. 

" Before any considerable fair, if the gang were at a distance 
from the place where it was to be held, whoever of them were 
appointed to go went singly, or, at most, never above two travelled 
together. A day or so after, Mr Baillie himself followed, mounted 

^ Biggar and tlie House of Fleming, Edinburgh, 1867, p. 404. - Simsou's 
History of tlie Gipsies, p. 206. ^ Ibid., p. 203. * Gyp-Lore Soc. Jour., ii. 
p. 322. Mr Leland speaks of the workers in bronze, but this is a distinction 
without any real difference, the Gypsies being notable bronze-workers. 
6 History, p. 202 ; also p. 197. 



CAPTAIN WILLIAM BAILLIE AND HIS BAND. 113 

like a nobleman ; and, as journeys in those days wei'e almost all 
performed on horseback, he sometimes rode for many miles with 
gentlemen of the first respectability in the country. And as he 
could discourse readily and fluently on almost any topic, he was 
often taken to be som6 country gentleman of j^roperty, as his dress 
and manners seemed to indicate." 

But the Justiciary Eecords for the years 1G98 and 1G99 
throw a lurid light upon the doings of " this splendid Gypsy " 
and his followers, during tlie previous quarter of a century ; 
and from the evidence given by witnesses in two of the 
most notable trials during this period, one learns fully the 
true meaning of such terms as " sorning," " masterful oppres- 
sion," and " masterful begging," so often used with reference 
to Gypsies. 

In December 1698 and June 1699 this " Captain William 
Baillie " and his gang were arraigned before the High Court 
of Justiciary, and were duly tried and sentenced. For some 
reason, the Gypsy leader was tried separately, in June 1699, 
being himself in custody at Dumfries when his followers 
were brought before the Court in December 1698. But, 
except that certain additional charges were made against 
William Baillie, the later trial was to a great extent a repe- 
tition of that of the preceding December. The names of 
those who were brought to justice on the first of these 
occasions were: — "John Baillie, Elder [i.e. senior], Helleu 
Andersone, Spouse to William Baillie, Elder, James, William, 
Patrick, Henry, Mary and Margaret Baillies,^ Children to 
the said William Baillie and Hellen Andersone, and William 
Baillie, sone to the deceast Patrick Baillie." Tiicse were 
only a portion of the baud, which was described as number- 
ing as many as thirty persons, on some occasions, although, 
as a rule, so many were not seen together. Those prisoners, 
then, were indicted as " vagabonds and Gypties," and as 
" vagabonds, sorners, and common thieves," having, says 
the indictment, " taken to your selves the name of iEgyp- 
tianes as descended to you from your forefathers under the 
name of Baillies," and " commonly using amongst your selves 

^ It was formorly the custom in Scotland to add the plural "s" where 
more than one of the same surname were named. 

H 



114 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

the Canting Languadge of ^gyptianes." Together with this 
general accusation, there were various specific charges of 
theft, robbery and murder, the details of which cannot be 
fully entered into here. It appears that this band had been 
previously apprehended in 1697, but had been liberated on 
their leaders granting a bond, dated 22d April 1697, by 
which they bound themselves and their followers never to 
be seen again in the parish of Crawford, Lanarkshire, where 
they had been captured, and wherein they made their chief 
resort. But, in spite of tliis, they had " since frequently 
haunted and been seen in the said paroch ; " where they 
followed the old high-iianded, overbearing, and violent Gypsy 
ways, taking up, to quofe the accusing words of the indict- 
ment, " your lodging within the bounds forsaid, Soraetymes 
in one place and some tymes in another, by force and vio- 
lence, offering, when refuised Quarters, fire and suord, And 
having with you horses, Grey hounds and other dogs, Guns, 
pistolls, Swords, Durks and other Weapones. And where you 
lodged ther was alwayes great loss of goods sustained by the 
Countrey about, As of Sheep, hens, Cornes, drawen out of 
Stacks and stollen out of barnes, fowell stollen, with cloathes, 
houshold plennishing and other goods. And you have bein 
seen coming from tlie mountaines about breaks of day. And im- 
mediatly therafter ther hes bein found upon the saids moun- 
tains the skins, heads, or intralls of new slain sheep. And 
when your persones hes bein searched and ryped for stollen 
goods. The same hath bein found upon you." Further, " as 
to particular Murders and thefts," they are accused of having, 
about the year 1670, murdered the servant of a local laird, 
on Tinto Hill, and having despoiled the body, buried it there ; 
also of having murdered Patrick Baillie, a fellow-Gypsy,^ in 
1672. Also of having, in the year 1697, attacked a certain 
countryman " and beatt him almost to death, if he had not 
been rescued out of your bloody hands." And of ha\dng 
frequently threatened one "William Yeitch of Smithwood, in 
Lanarkshire ; " and particularly," one day in February or 
March 1697, " you came in a great company and in hostile 
manner, with swords, pistolls, and Gunns, to murder the said 

1 This is noteworthy, in view of indications that it was previously " not 
usual to take cognisance of murder amongst the Egyptians." 



A RECORD OF CRIME. 115 

William and his family, And attempted to make a breach 
upon the house for that effect, But finding the house a strong 
old built tower, you were therby hindered." Another 
charge was that when, one night some years previously, the 
Earl of March had been robbed at Nidpath Castle, in 
Peeblesshire, " you the said Egyptians " arrived on the 
following night at " Kirkhope House in Crawford muire with 
back burdens and armefulls " of clothes which (inferentially) 
were those stolen from Lord March. For these and many 
other minor offences, as well as for being notorious " Egyp- 
tians," this band of Baillies was now brought to account. 

The witnesses w^ho gave evidence against them were all 
in agreement as to their being " Egyptians " by common 
repute, " speaking amongst themselves a Jargon Canting 
^Egyptian Languadge which none but themselves understood." 
One witness testifies that he has always known John Baillie 
to be a Gypsy, and " he remembers that he [John Baillie] 
was following and in company with old James Baillie his 
father, also a knowen and repute Egyptian about thretty 
years agoe. And he was teaching him to handle his arras." 
The same witness states that he and five others gave chase 
to the Gypsies, on the occasion of their capture in 1697, and 
succeeded in dragging James Baillie from his horse ; after 
which they pursued and overpowered " William Baillie, sone 
to old William, who had a gunn, and offered to make 
resistance." 

On 15th December the Assize returned their verdict, and 
on the 19th the Lord Justice-Clerk and Commissioners 
sentenced all the prisoners to death, with the exception of 
Margaret Baillie ; ordaining that John Baillie should be 
hanged on a gibl)et at the Gallowlee, between Leith and 
Edinburgh, his body thereafter being " hanged up in Chaines." 
The other doomed Gypsies were to be hanged in the Grass- 
market, on 6th January 1699. Tiiere seems no reason to 
doubt that this sentence was fully carried into effect. 

On 26th June 1699, the chief of the band, "William 
Baillie, Elder, a vagaband goeing under tlie name of 
yEgyptian, and now prisoner in the tobuith of Ed'.," 
was brought before the High Court of Justiciary. He was 
charged witli having, for several years past, along with a 



116 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

number of other Egyptians, " wandered up and downe in 
severall places of the Kingdome as Idle vagabonds, Under the 
name and owning your Selfe, at least knowen, repute and 
holden to be one of these wicked people called ^gyptianes." 
And the indictment goes on categorically to accuse him of 
the offences charged against his followers in December, in 
the same terms. " As also yow the said William Baillie 
being pitched upon to goe to Flanders with the recruites 
that were sent there, and being put aboard a ship in 
Borroustainess road, And yow having Combyned with others 
of the recruites yow made a Mutiny in the ship wherof yow 
was the chief ringleader. And yow and others that Joyned 
with yow having Commanded the Ship and killed a serjant 
and severall other men that opposed you, Yee runn the ship 
aground upon a sand bank under Culross, And having made 
a Floatt of Dealles, Yow came ashoar. And some of the 
Countrey people offering to secure yow, yow killed a plough- 
man by a stroke with your musket on the head. And so 
escaped. As also you did committ many other thefts, 
murders and robbries." 

The evidence given by the witnesses in this case also 
quite bore out the justice of the general accusation. Baillie 
was " by the common report of the Countrey always called 
and esteemed ane Egyptian," and known "not only to be 
ane ^Egyptian but the Captain of them." " And that he 
ordinarily was armed with Sword, pistol! and Gunns [sic] 

and that he was in arms when he was apprehended, 

and made resistance by presenting his pistolls against those 
who came to take him." His savage nature is clearly seen, 
also, in the account of an attack made by him and his people 
on some countrymen, when, "after several Countrey people 
had gathered, and that the gypsies were sett off, William 
Baillie the pannall floorished his sword about his head in a 
threatening manner, and told that what they had gotten was 
but ane arles penny [an earnest] of what they might 
expect." 

One would think that if any man deserved hanging it 
was this William Baillie. Yet the jury only found him 
guilty of being a Gypsy and the Captain of the Gypsies, and 
of " strikino; and wounding " one of the countrvmen referred 



MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE. 117 

to. And the sentence was that he should be transported 
for life ; having previously undergone the trivial degradation 
of standing for two hours at the Tron of Edinburgh, " with 
a paper on his face declaring his guilt," and being thereafter 
" burnt on the right Cheek with a hott Iron." 

Although this sentence was passed on 28th June 1699, 
he remained in Edinburgh nearly three months longer ; as 
is testified by the following reference in Chambers's Domestic 
Annals : ^ — 

"William Baillie, 'ane Egyptian,' prisoner in the Tolbooth of 
Elinburgh, but regarding wliom we hear of no specific crime or 
offence, was summarily ordered (Sept. 12, 1699) to be transported 
in the first ship going to the plantations, the skipper to be allowed 
a proper gratuity from the treasury, and at the same time to give 
caution [security] for five hundred merks that he would produce a 
certificate of the man being landed in America. — Privy Council 
Record." 

If he ever was " landed in America," it is evident he did 
not remain there for the rest of his days. For this same 
William Baillie again appears as brought to justice sixteen 
years later. In September 1715, he and his brother (?) John 
Baillie are arraigned as Egyptians, liable to death under the 
Act of 1609 ; and, moreover, William is charged "with being 
art and part in forging and using a forged pass or certificate." 
It is further set forth against him 

"That he had been formerly, in 1699, convicted of the same 
crimes, and sentenced by the justiciary to be hanged : That the 
Privy Council had commuted this sentence into banishment ; but 
under the express condition, that if ever he returned to this 
country, the former sentence should be executed against him ; and 
that he gave bond, under the penalty of 500 merks, ' to obtemper 
the same, by and attour [besides] undergoing of the said pains of 
death in case of contravention thereof.' Which sentence, and 
appointment of the Privy Council, he had manifestly contravened 
by his returning again to Scotland." 

The arguments for the defence need not be repeated here. 
It is enough to record tliat, on 7th September 1715 — 

" The jury brought in a special verdict as to the sorning, but 
said nothing at all as to any other point : all they found i^roved 
was, That William, in March and April 1713, had taken i^ossession 

' Vol. iii. (1861), p. 116. 



118 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

of a barn without consent of the owners ; and that during his 
abode in it, there was corn taken out of the barn ; and he went 
away without paying anything for his quarters, or for any corn 
during his abode, which was for several days ; and that he was 
habite and repute an Egyptian, and did wear a jDistol and shable 
[a kind of sabre]." 

" Upon this, Hejitemher 8, 1715, the pannels were dismissed from 
the bai\" ^ 

A most amusing non scquitur ; which would be quite 
inexplicable, in the face of the immense array of statutes 
making every " Egyptian " liable to death, were it not for 
the fact that the ends of justice were defeated over and over 
again by the private influence which the Gypsius undoubtedly 
possessed.^ 

It does not seem to be quite apparent whether " William 
Baillie " who was tried as a Gypsy in July-August 1714, 
and who was then sentenced to transportation, was this same 
incorrigible William Baillie who had been sent to America in 
1699, and who was again tried and " dismissed from the bar" 
in 1715. It is quite likely that he was. There seems no 
reason why he should not have continued to live in a chronic 
condition of trial and acquittal until he ended his earthly 
career in the natural way, and amid the lamentations of the 
great, as did his contemporary and colleague AVilliam Marshall. 
But he who had laughed the gallows to scorn throughout his 
life was doomed to die a bloody death, at the hands of his 
own fellow-Gypsies. 

^ Maclauriii's Arguments and Decisions, &c., Edinburgh, 1774, pp. 57-9. 
^ In Simson's History (pp. 121, 20.5, 213, 470), it is stated that this 
William BaiUie was nearly related to the important landed family of Baillie 
of Lamington ; and, commenting upon this, Mr James Simson cites (pp. 
470-71) " a somewhat similar case, related by a writer in Blackwood's 
Magazine." It appears that "Tarn Gordon, the captain of the Spittal 
Gypsies, [at Berwick] and his son-in-law, Anonias Faa," had been seized " in 
the very act of stealing sheep ; when the captain drew a knife, to defend 
himself. They were convicted and condemned for the crime ; ' but after- 
wards, to the great surprise of their Berwickshire neighbours, obtained a 
pardon, a piece of unmerited and ill-bestowed clemency, for which, it was 
generally understood, they were indebted to the interest of a noble northern 
family of their own name ; ' " indicating the Duke, or rather the Duchess of 
Gordon. In like manner, the otherwise astounding immunity from punish- 
ment enjoyed by the Galloway Gypsy Marshall, could be attributed to a 
blood relationship with the Earl of Selkirk, whose reasons for bestowing a 
pension upon this hoary reprobate have never been given. 



THE END OF A TURBULENT LIFE. 119 

On the afternoon of the 12th of Xovember 1724, " about 
sun-setting," " three of those idle sorners that pass in the 
country under the name of Gypsies " rode up to the door of 
a tavern in the village of Newarthill, in Lanarkshire, and, 
dismounting, entered the house. The names of these three 
were William Baillie, James Kairns, and David Pinkerton. 

They got a room for themselves, and there they sat for 
some time, drinking and talking, — " talking a jargon " which 
the landlord " did not well understand." Eventually, they 
came to high words, and then to blows, and the landlord, 
rushing in, found Kairns and Baillie struggling on the floor. 
Whereupon he " threatened to raise the town upon them, and 
get a constable to carry them to prison." At this, "Kairns 
and Pinkerton called for their horses, William Baillie saying 
he would not go with them." The two others, having mounted 
their horses, ordered the landlord " to bring a chopin of ale 
to the door to them, where AYilliam Baillie was standing, 
talking to them." This the innkeeper accordingly did, and 
having "filled about the ale," he " left them, thinking they 
were going off." At this juncture a villager, who had been 
in another room in the tavern, came to the door, "where he 
saw Wilham Baillie standing, and Kairns and Pinkerton on 
horseback, with drawn swords in their hands, who both rushed 
upon the said William Baillie, and struck him with their 
swords ; whereupon," this witness avers, " the said William 
Baillie fell down, crying out he was gone ; upon which Kairns 
and Pinkerton rode off: That the declarant helped to carry 
the said William Baillie into the house, where, upon search, 
he was found to have a great cut or wound on his head, and 
a wound in his body, just below the slot of his breast: And 
declares, he, the said William Baillie, died some time after." ^ 

Mr Simson states that Baillie's wife, a certain Piachel 
Johnstone, and his son, then a boy of thirteen, swore to bring 
his murderers to justice. Certain it is, that " David 
Pinkerton, alias ^Maxwell, John Marshall, and Helen Baillie, 

' For this incident see Simson's History, pp. 206-7. Tlie extracts from 
the Justiciary Reconls, notably in tlic Baillie trials of 1698 and 1699, are 
here taken from the original Books, which, by the courtesy of G. L. Crole, 
Esq., Clerk of Justiciary, I have ha<l an opportunity of examining. These 
trials, anil others of 1714, are more specially considered from the legal point 
of view ill Baron Hume's Commentaries, vol. i. pp. 472-73. 



120 SCOTTISH GYPSIES UNDER THE STEWARTS. 

alias Douglass," " being habit and repute Egyptians, sorners, 
or masterful beggars," were duly tried for " sorning aud 
robbery " — though not for murder — on 22d August 1726. 

Of other trials of Gypsies, belonging to the close of the 
Stewart period, the following may be noted. The " Process 
against the Egyptians " at Banff, in 1700.^ The trial of 
John Kerr and Helen Yorstoun, on 19th July 1714 ; followed 
by that of William Baillie and other Gypsies, between 26th 
July and 11th August of the same year. As a sequence of 
this latter trial was the execution of Agnes M'Donald and 
Jean Baillie, "Egyptians," on 24th November 1714.^ This 
may be fairly held to conclude the period under consideration, 
as the Stewart dynasty ceased on the death of its last repre- 
sentative. Queen Anne, on 1st August 1714. 

1 Miscellany of the Spalding Club (Aberdeen, 1846, vol. iii. pp. 175-91). 
- For these, see the Justiciary Records. 



1 1^ D E X. 



Aberdeen and the Gypsies, 32-36, 

97, 109. 
Actors, 56-61. 
Algerian corsairs in the British Isles, 

23. 
Annandale and Tinklers, 9. 
Armorial Bearings of Gypsies, 27-28. 
Ayrshire, William Marshall born in, 

104. 

Baillie family of Gypsies : — Towla 
and Gelej'r Bailzow (1540), 37, 
43 ; Captain Robert Baillie (1579), 
52, 69 ; William Bailzie (1616), 
70, 91 ; Moses Bailzie (1616), 
91-94; "the Baillies" (1677), 
108-109 ; Captain William Baillie 
(d, 1724), 3, 70, 111-119 ; Jane 
Baillie, 3 ; Matthew Baillie, 3-4 ; 
Helen and Jean Baillie (1714), 119. 

Banff and the Gypsies, 119. 

Barullion, The Caii-d of, 5, 6, 104- 
107. 

Beggars, or " randy beggars," 12, 
17, 18, 72. 

Berwick and the Gypsies, 118 (note). 

Brasiers, 5, 47, 111-112. 

Caird, 1. 

Carlyle, Gypsy ancestors of Jane 

Baillie Welsh, 3. 
Cassillis, Countess of, and John Faw, 

109-110. 
Colliers and Salters, 74. 
Complexion of Gypsies, 1-3, G, 7. 
Constables, Gypsy, 86. 
Counterfeiting, 70, 72 (note). 
Crawfurd, Earl of, " surety in relief " 

for a Gypsy, 81, 83. 



Daxceks, Gypsies as, 25, 59-61. ' — ^ 
Denmark, King of, receives letter 

from James IV. commending Gypsy 

band (1505), 29-30. 
Durham, Gypsies in, 41-42. 

"Egypt," 30-31, 37-38, 43-44, 71. 
Elgin and the Gypsies, 89. 

Faring-man's Law and Court of 
Dusty Foot, 48-49. 

Faring-men in Elgin (1596), 49-50. 

Faw : generic name for Gypsies, 
tinkers, &c., 1, 13-16. 

Faw family of Gypsies (otherwise Fa, 
Faa, Fall, Fae, and Wann) : — 
Captain John Faw, alleged to have 
been at Hermiston Castle in 1470, 
26-27 ; George Faw, otherwise 
" Earl George, called of Egypt " 
(1539-1540), 33-36 ; John Faw, 
colleague of foregoing, 34-35 ; 
John Faw, Lord and Earl of Little 
Egypt (1540), 37-38, and (1540- 
1553) 40-44 ; John Wanne (1540), 
40 ; Baptist, Amy and George Faw 
(1549), 41-42 ; Captain Andrew 
Faw, George, Robert, Anthony and 
John Faw (1553-1554), 44 ; Harry 
Fall (1603-1606), 78; Captain 
Han-y Faw (1611), 84 ; the late 
Henry Faa (1624), 99 ; Moses Faw 
(1609-1611), 81-84, 101 ; David, 
Robert, and John uliaH Willie Fa 
(1611), 82-84; James Faw (1611), 
84 ; Meikle John Faw, Little John 
Faw, Katherin Faw and Agnes 
Faw (1612), 53, 86 ; James and 
Alexander Fae (1613), 87 ; John 



122 



INDEX. 



Fall or Faa (1615-1616), 88- 
94 ; James Faa (1616), 91-94 ; 
Captain John Faa, John Faa, 
younger, Robert, Samuel, Andrew, 
"William, Alexander, Edward, 
Francis, Helen (2), Lucrece, Els- 
peth (2), Katherine, Marjory, Jean, 
Margaret and Isobel Faa (1624), 
99 ; James Faa (1637), 101 ; Phaa 
(1657), 102 ; the Faas (1674), 108 ; 
Alexander, George and John or 
Robert Faw (1677-1678), 108-9 ; 
Ananias Faa, 118 (note). 
Forfar and the Gypsies, 78, 87-91. 
-Fortune-telling, 2, 59-60, 63-64, 84, 
Fowlis, Lady, 66-67. 

. Galloway Gypsies, 5, 6, 20-24, 104- 

107. 
Galloway, Saracens or Moors in, 20- 

24. 
Glasgow, Gypsies in (1579), 69, 101. 
Gordon, Duchess of, and the Gypsies, 

118 (note). 
Gray, Lord, and the Gypsies (1616), 

88-91. 
Guelderland, Gypsies in, 31, 62." 
Gypsies, Dark and Fair, 1-3, 6, 7. 
" Gypsy ;" uncertainty as to precise 

meaning of term, 1, 4. 

Haddingtonshire Gypsies, 26-28, 

100. 
Hammermen and Gypsies, 107. 
Harbouring or "Reset" of Gypsies, 

79-81, 88-90, 94-96. 
Hermiston Castle and the Gypsies, 

26, 27. 
Heron, Francis, " King of the Faws" 

(d. 1756), 13. 
Home of Wedderburn and the Gypsies, 

26, 27. 
Horners, 1, 50. 
House-dwelling Gypsies, 5-9. 

Incest, 18, 53. 

James IL issues an edict against 
" sorners, overliers, and masterful 
beggars" in 1449, 17, 31; gives 
the Estate of Bombie to the slayer 
of a Saracen chief in Galloway 
(1452-1460), 20-22. 



James IV. gives money to Gypsies in 
April 1505, 29 ; commends Gypsy 
band to King of Denmark in July 
1505, 29-30. 

James V. grants Letters under the 
Great Seal (prior to 17th Feb. 1540), 
to John Faw, ordering authorities 
to support him, 37 ; signs a Privy 
Council AVrit to same effect, 38. 

James VL passes many Acts for 
suppression of Gypsies, 

Jugglers or Jongleurs, 47, 50, 59-60, 
63-64. 

" King's Kindly Tenants," 9-12. 
Kirkcudbright Gypsies, 20-24, 104- 
107. 

Lanarkshire Gypsies, 5, 12, 111- 
119. 

Language of Gypsies, 2, 7, 113, 
114, 118. 

" Lawful Business " of Gypsies, 38, 
43, 46-50. 

" Laws of Egypt," 37-38, 43, 51-55. 

Letters of Protection, &c., obtained by 
Gypsies from King and Authori- 
ties, 29-30, 37-38, 40, 42-44, 52, 
80-81. 

Linlithgow Gypsies, 73. 

Lochmaben Gypsies, 9-12. 

Maclellan of Bombie and the Sara- 
cens, 20-24. 

Mary, Queen of Scots, by the Regent 
Hamilton, subscribes a Privy 
Council "Writ supporting John 
Faw (1553), 44. 

Masterful Beggars. Sec Sorners, 

Midlothian Gypsies, 2, 3, 56-61, 75- 
76, 98-100, 111. 

Moors, 21-26. 

Morris-dancers, 25, 59. 

Mountebanks, 19, 26 (note), 50, 58- 
61. 

Muggers, 1, 13, 16, 47. 

Musicians, 50, 54-55, 59, 73. 

Northamptonshire Gypsies, 69. 
Northumbrian Gypsies, 13. 
Nunraw Castle, 27-28. 



INDEX. 



123 



Oneiromancy, 84. 

Orkney and the Gypsies, 96, 

Over-liers. See Sorners. 

Palmistry, 2, 59-60, 63-64. 
Pedlars, 5, 13, 14, 47-50. 
Peeblesshire and the Gypsies, 108- 

109, 114. 
Penal servitude, 65, 74-75. 
Potters. See Muggers. 

Regent Hamilton and the Gypsies 

(1553), 44. 
Eegent Morton and the Gypsies 

(1573 and 1576), 62-67. 
Renfrewshire Gypsies, 12. 
Ruddlemen or Keelers, 16. 

Saracens in the British Isles, 20- 

24. 
Selkirk, Earl of, and the Caird of 

Barullion, 107. 
Selkirkshire and the Gypsies, 54-55, 

82. 
Serpent Crest of Gypsies, 27-28. 
Shetland Gypsies, 53, 86. 
Sinclair of Hermiston and the 

Gypsies, 26, 27. 
Sinclair of Roslin and the G3'psies, 

56-61, 98. 
Sorners 1, 17, 18, 32 (note), 63-64, 

72, 80, 84, 91-96, 112-119. 
Stirling and the Gypsie.s, 87, 102. 
Surnames of Gypsies : — Alston, 3 ; 

Anderson, 113 ; Andree, 33-34 ; 

Baillie {see " Baillie Family"); 

Baptista, 33-34 ; Beige, 37, 43 ; 

Blythe, 2, 7, 8 ; Boswell or Bosvile, 

15 ; Bro^vn, 44, 53, 73, 91-94, 99, i 

108-109 ; Campbell, 99 ; Catilho, I 



62 ; Clarke, 13, 14 ; Colyne, 44 
Donea, 37, 43 ; Douglas, 2, 119 
Faw {sec " Faw Family") ; Feniine 
37-43 ; Fingo or Finco, 37, 43 
Fleckie, 8 ; Gagino, 29 ; George 
44 ; Gordon, 118 (note) ; Hair, 44 
Hatseyggow, 37, 43 ; Heron, 13 
14 ; Her\n, 62 ; Jacks, 32 ; Kairns 
118, 119 ; Kennedy, 9, 15 ; Kerr 
119; Lawlor or Lallow, 37-38^ 
41-45 ; Macfarlane alias Macfidum 
14 ; M'Donald, 119 ; Marshall, 5 
104-107, 119 ; Matskalla, 37, 43 
Maxwell, 87, 119 ; Mosroesse, 62 
Neyn, 37, 43 ; Pinkerton, 118- 
119 ; Rochester, 14 ; Shaw, 108-9 
Stewart 101 ; Tait, 2 ; Trotter 
99 ; Yallantyne, 99 ; Wann [see 
" Faw Family") ; Wilson, 2, 99 
AVinter, 13-15 ; Young, 2, 8, 109 
Yowston (or Euston), Yorkston 
or Yorstoun, 3, 119. 

Tapestry, 110 (note). 

Thieves, Gypsy, 3-4, 13, 14, 15, 32, 

35, 41, 59-60, 63, 66, 80-85, 91- 

96, 98-100. 
Tinkers or Tinklers, 1, 4-7, 9, 12, 13, 

47, 50, 104-107. 
Titles borne by Gypsies, 27-28, 33, 

37, 40. 
Transportation of Gypsies, 102-104, 

116-117. 

Witchcraft, 79, 97-98. ""^ 

Yetholm Gypsies, 2, 3, 6-8. 
Yorkshire Gypsies, 15. 

25 iNGARi in Barbary and Spain, 23, 



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